Pubdate: Wed, 04 Oct 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A3


Employees jeer drug squad, SWAT team

Police raided one of the city's busiest pot shops on Tuesday, hauling
away five clerks in handcuffs while a handful of demonstrators jeered.

It's the second time the Cannabis Culture dispensary on Bank Street
near Gladstone Avenue has been raided. The illegal shop closed for a
day last March after police arrested five clerks for drug trafficking
and hauled away the dried weed, cannabis concentrates and oils on sale.

On Tuesday, drug squad officers in balaclavas, the SWAT team and
uniformed officers arrived at the shop not long after it opened at 10

Several fellow dispensary workers showed up during the raid,
videotaping police and yelling insults. "How much taxpayers' money did
you waste? Are you f-ing kidding me?" yelled one. "They should be
investigating cocaine dealers!"

Marijuana is an alternative to harder drugs and better than booze,
said protester Blayne Farquharson, who volunteers at Cannabis Culture.

"It's a safe, healthier alternative to opioids," he said. "(Marijuana)
needs to stop being stigmatized. The public wants these

Farquharson said he opposes the Ontario government's plan to open pot
stores run by the LCBO, with the product not visible, similar to the
way cigarettes are sold. "People won't be given a choice (of stores)
or see the product before they buy it."

Leanne Wilson, a volunteer at both Cannabis Culture and CannaBliss on
Preston Street, followed police officers down the street screaming at
them. She said she was livid.

"I'm willing to go to jail for it. I believe in it enough," she said,
comparing the cannabis cause to the fight for gay rights.

Nadine Grenier, who used to work at Cannabis Culture, said medical
marijuana has changed her life by helping her cope with anxiety and

"People need the opportunity for choice, to say, 'I know that I don't
want to take a bunch of pharmaceuticals that pollute my body.' "

Grenier said she also believes people should have the right to buy
cannabis at dispensaries for recreational use, too.

"I mean really, the worst than can happen to a stoner is going to be
they eat some snacks and relax. Or go clean the house."

Customer Eric Charron, who arrived to find the shop closed, called the
raid "terrible."

Staff at Cannabis Culture are friendly and knowledgeable, he said. He
appreciates not having to buy weed from street dealers. "It's better
than running out in the alleys looking for some dude you don't know.

"The guys on the street are spraying it with chemicals to give it more
weight. You can taste it."

Charron says he doesn't drink, and considers marijuana less harmful
than alcohol. However, now that he has children himself, he doesn't
want them to begin smoking pot when they are young teenagers, like he
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