Pubdate: Mon, 25 Sep 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


A police raid on a new downtown London pot shop resulted from citizen
complaints, not because the illegal business was openly selling
cannabis to anyone older than 19, the city's police chief says.

Police swooped in on the London Relief Centre on Richmond Street last
Wednesday, less than two weeks after it opened in defiance of the law,
charging five staffers and seizing cannabis and cash.

But unlike the spring crackdown on pot shops, when police raided five
dispensaries across the city, last week's clampdown only targeted the
Richmond Row operation, leaving London's four other dispensaries unscathed.

"How we've been handling the dispensaries, and we've been very open
about it, is that (if ) we receive complaints, we gather evidence, we
take the appropriate action," Chief John Pare said.

The London Relief Centre was the city's first dispensary where anyone
19 or older could buy marijuana, regardless of whether they had a
valid prescription, as required by the city's other pot shops.

Cannabis crusader Jodie Emery, the wife of former Londoner and
longtime pot activist Marc Emery, accused police of taking a "Russian
roulette" approach.

"It's harmful, it's costly . . . and all Canadians are going to be
paying for it, whether they like pot or not," Emery said of the action
against pot shops.

Police across Canada have launched 272 raids on dispensaries since
Justin Trudeau became prime minister 22 months ago, according to
website that tracks the incidents.

The London Relief Centre, located in a ground-floor unit at 691
Richmond St., remained closed during the weekend. Two flat screen
televisions listing available strains of marijuanaremained on, but the
shelves were empty.

Last week' s raid came on the heels of the Ontario Liberals'
announcement to open 40 government-run cannabis stores and an online
service by the summer, when Ottawa is expected to deliver on its plan
to legalize recreational pot by July 1.

In a bid to stamp out unsanctioned pot shops, the province pledged
more then $274 million for enforcement.

But critics have questioned whether the government-run system can
handle the surging demand, pointing to supply problems already
plaguing Health Canada-approved medicinal marijuana producers. The
chronic shortages, along with other issues such as minimum order
requirements, sent many medicinal patients to the dispensaries.

"If they have the choice, they're going to choose dispensaries," Emery
said of marijuana users, both medical and recreational. "And that's
why the government is sending out men with guns to crack down on the
competition in a strange, cartel-style monopolization move. It's
disgusting and harmful."
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