Pubdate: Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A5


Plan for legalized sales included warning that rogue shops would be
shut down

Last month Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi declared war on the
province's illegal pot shops, and this week Ottawa police ramped up
efforts to shut down the illegal businesses.

Police swooped down on the busy Cannabis Culture store on Bank Street,
the Dr. Greenthumb on Montreal Road and "several" outdoor grow ops on
Tuesday, arresting eight people.

"The provincial government has made it clear that independent
storefronts will not be part of a legal framework in Ontario," said
Staff Sgt. Rick Carey of the Ottawa police drug unit in a news
release. "These storefronts are now and will continue to be illegal
operations and property owners need to be aware that they could face
serious repercussions for allowing them to continue to operate."

When Naqvi announced last month that Ontario plans to sell marijuana
at stores run by the LCBO, he warned dispensaries will be shut down.

Ottawa police have staged sporadic raids on dispensaries over the last
year, but many reopen and new ones pop up. The raids this week also
hit grow ops, with police reporting they confiscated a little more
than 1,200 pounds of marijuana plants.

A key police strategy is to try to disrupt the supply chain for the
shops, according to a report prepared by the force.

The Cannabis Culture shop on Bank Street was also raided in March, but
reopened a day later. It's not clear if the shop will open again after
the latest raid.

Dr. Greenthumb on Montreal Road opened last summer in a strip mall
adjoining a Subway shop. Staff prided themselves on having the lowest
dispensary prices in town: $8.50 a gram.

"Everybody else is gouging everyone," said Melissa, a clerk behind the
counter when the Citizen visited the shop in the summer. "They rip
everybody off."

Other dispensaries commonly charge $11 to $14.

Melissa said she was a volunteer who travelled from Belleville to work
at the shop. "I'm part of the movement." She said the weed sold at Dr.
Greenthumb was "guaranteed" free of mould, pesticides and other nasty
things that might be found in pot bought on the street. Before she
started buying from the store, she would get a lung infection every
few months from street weed, requiring puffers and prednisone, she

She didn't know the source of the store's marijuana. "Maybe

Dr. Greenthumb, like most of the dispensaries in town, sold to anyone
over the age of 19.

"There's a fentanyl epidemic out there. Everybody is dropping like
flies. They could just smoke (weed) and they'd be fine," Melissa said.

She said she did her best to educate customers.

"Indicia is on the couch, sativa is awake," she advised one customer,
explaining the difference between the two major cannabis strains.

"And hybrids for people who can't make up their minds!" chortled an
older man in a wheelchair behind the counter, puffing on a vaporizer
and petting an Italian mastiff named Chomper flopped on an old chair
beside him.

The shop was plastered with psychedelic posters with slogans like
"Good Buds Stick Together" and "Have a Nice Dab!" No fewer than two
signs announced: Sorry, I'm Stoned. It was cash only. The Citizen
visited the shop a couple times, both before noon, and there was a
lineup, mainly of young men. Customers were allowed to sniff and even
take dried weed out of glass jars to feel it.

The shop also sold a variety of cannabis concentrates and edible

When one customer asked for a recommendation, clerk Logan, 21,
suggested a "fully loaded 375 mg gummy for $30." He pulled out a
plastic Ziploc bag containing a black candy shaped like a revolver.
The candy was made locally, Logan said proudly. The 375 mg is a
reference to the amount of THC, the chemical that makes users high.
For reference, a "single serving" edible in Colorado is 10 mg.

Logan, a sweet, soft-spoken lad, said marijuana helps his stomach

"I smoke because of the pain. If I didn't, I'd be doubled over
clutching my stomach all the time."

His doctor couldn't figure out what was wrong, so McMahon began
medicating himself with marijuana. He said marijuana also helped him
overcome crippling anxiety that made it difficult to leave his bedroom.

"This is a really good way to get back into the community and interact
with people."

He said he felt safe and welcome at the shop, and that he was helping

"And it's something to put on your resume, right?"

Reached by phone Wednesday, Logan said he wasn't at the shop when it
was raided, and he's not sure whether he'll be back working there.
"It's still a grey area." One of the most popular items sold at Dr.
Greenthumb was vaporizer pens loaded with cannabis oil.

"They are so popular, they just fly out of here," Melissa

They were sold out the day the Citizen visited, but she pulled a pen
out of her pants pocket and offered a puff.
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