Pubdate: Sat, 02 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


An East Coast entrepreneur who is wanted by London police faces 10
drug and weapons charges in his home province after police raided five
marijuana dispensaries there.

London police issued an arrest warrant for Malachy McMeekin, of Cole
Harbour, N.S., after raiding five pot shops in March.

McMeekin, 35, is president of Tasty Budd's, a chain of marijuana
dispensaries with franchises in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and London.
He travelled to London last summer for the opening of a location on
Wharncliffe Road.

The RCMP searched five Tasty Budd's stores in Nova Scotia and four
homes Aug. 24, alleging the storefronts were being used to traffic
marijuana and cocaine.

In addition to seizing a range of cannabis products, police
confiscated a loaded handgun, a shotgun, cocaine and three ATMs.

McMeekin is one of 10 people facing a combined 69 charges, including
drug trafficking and drug possession, possession of property obtained
by crime and unauthorized possession of a firearm. McMeekin issued a
statement after the raids, saying the illegal activity was confined to
one location.

"This only came to our attention through the recent police activity
and investigation. This is a gross violation of our code of conduct,
our ethics and everything Tasty Budd's stands for. Since the
information has come to our attention, we have dismissed everyone from
that specific location," the one-page statement said.

"Tasty Budd's will continue to help the patients and will continue
filling the void to foster access and help provide reasonable access
to medical marijuana to valid medical patients. We hope the actions of
a few bad apples will not spoil the basket."

London police charged McMeekin with drug trafficking after the March 2
crackdown on dispensaries across the city.

"We still have a warrant on file for him," Const. Michelle Kasper said

Halifax lawyer Alex Mackillop, who represents McMeekin, said he's
working to resolve the warrant.

"We recently sent correspondence requesting that the warrant be
vacated for lack of evidence and realistic prospect of conviction,"
Mackillop said in an email to The Free Press.

"(McMeekin) was never even in Ontario since the store opened, nor did
he have control or knowledge over what products they were selling, nor
was he supplying them. He simply provided consent for them to operate
under the name Tasty Budd's."

Tasty Budd's opened at 96 Wharncliffe Rd. S. on Aug. 12, 2016. Police
raided it less than a week later, charging the franchisee and a
staffer, but the businesses reopened within days. The shop reopened
again after the second police raid in the spring.

The dispensary is still serving customers, the manager said Thursday,
adding she's aware of what happened in Nova Scotia.

McMeekin and other dispensary operators say they're not breaking the
law because all their clients have a valid prescription for cannabis.

But the federal government says prescription pot users may buy only
from about four dozen licensed producers approved by Health Canada.
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