Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Megan Stacey
Page: A3


A police crackdown on London's most brazen new marijuana dispensary
was inevitable, and residents shouldn't expect legalization to put an
end to those raids, one pot advocate said.

Police descended on the London Relief Centre Wednesday morning,
arresting five. A woman who witnessed the raid said more than half a
dozen officers burst through the door about 10 a.m., yelling for
everyone to get out of the Richmond Row business.

"It was pretty scary. They just kind of came out of nowhere," said
Paula, a customer who didn't want to give her full name. "I'm still a
little rattled."

But Eric Shepperd, a local cannabis advocate, said it's exactly what
he'd expect to see with legalization of recreational pot looming.

"Given the legal climate and the transition towards so-called legality
of cannabis in Canada, it's going to be a rough road," he said. "It
certainly won't be the last pot shop to be busted."

The London Relief Centre opened earlier this month, offering to sell
marijuana to anyone over 19, even without a prescription.

"Trafficking marijuana is still against the law, and we will be
enforcing those laws," Const. Sandasha Bough said outside the shop

The so-called 19-plus business model used by the London Relief Centre
flouts the law and challenges the Ontario government's plan to
regulate the sale of pot when it is legalized next year.

But some Londoners are enraged that local police are making such an
effort to obstruct pot shops.

Laura Meldrum tried to visit the London Relief Centre Wednesday when
she learned of the raid. She thinks police resources are better spent

"I don't understand it," she said. Meldrum and her teenage son both
smoke marijuana. "I'd rather hand him a joint than I would a drink."

Federal legislation will legalize the use of pot, leaving provincial
governments in charge of where it can be sold. Ontario recently
announced a plan to sell marijuana in stores regulated by the LCBO -
meaning dispensaries not overseen by the province will remain illegal.

Shepperd believes shops like the London Relief Centre will operate as
they always have - illegally.

"They're going to continue to do business. But without the province's
blessing, they're still going to be subject to the same criminal
penalties as they have all along."
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