Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


A downtown London pot shop has beefed up security after a staffer was
charged for the second time in less than three months.

The charges announced Thursday against Michael Leeder, 27, stem from a
three-week investigation into the London Relief Centre, an illegal
marijuana dispensary that set up shop on Richmond Row in September.

Police raided the dispensary, where anyone over the age of 19 can buy
cannabis, even without a valid pot prescription, less than two weeks
after it opened. Leeder and four others were charged with multiple
counts of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Leeder was ordered not to communicate with the four others charged in
the Sept. 20 raid, court records show. He also was banned from the
London Relief Centre, unless escorted by a police officer to retrieve
his personal belongings.

"Leeder was seen walking into the dispensary on Dec. 4, which was a
direct violation of his undertaking," Const. Katrina Aarts said Thursday.

Police arrested Leeder last Friday, seizing $2,000 worth of marijuana
edibles and $16,000 in cash from a vehicle, Aarts said.

He was charged with an additional count of drug possession for the
purpose of trafficking and breaching an undertaking.

Leeder, who has been released from custody, is scheduled to appear in
court on Jan. 12.

Court records show Leeder was charged with drug possession in Brampton
on July 6, 2013, but the charge was withdrawn on Jan. 2, 2014.

New security measures were in place at the London Relief Centre,
located in a ground-floor unit at 691 Richmond St., Thursday.

The door to the dispensary is kept locked during business hours. A
security guard stationed at the entrance opens the door to allow
customers inside, where more than a dozen people could be seen lined
up to buy marijuana.

There are still five illegal pot shops operating in London, despite
repeated police raids. Four of the unsanctioned businesses, unlike the
London Relief Centre, require clients to have a valid prescription for

Marijuana will be sold at LCBO run stand-alone stores and through an
online service when the federal Liberal government makes good on its
pledge to legalize the drug for recreational use by July 2018.

London has been selected to get at least one of the government pot
shops when the first 40 open across Ontario. That number will grow to
150 by 2020.

The province previously announced new legislation that would give
police the power to shut down premises they suspect are being used for
the illegal sale or distribution of cannabis.
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