Source:   Vancouver Province
Contact:   Thu 18 Dec 1997 A4Author: Jack Keating


Marijuana was being smoked openly and business was booming yesterday less
than 24 hours after Vancouver police raided and shut down two downtown pot

``A quarter of a million dollars was looted by the police overnight,'' said
owner Marc Emery, fresh from a night in jail and puffing a joint as
hundreds of potconnoisseurs browsed in his reopened Hemp B.C. store and
others filled the adjoining Cannabis Cafe.

Police seized an estimated $l.6 million worth of marijuanarelated
merchandise, including ``tens of thousands'' of seeds in the raid, said
police spokeswoman Const. Anne Drennan.

``We seized a minimum of $100,000 worth of bongs, vaporizers and hash
pipes. And tens of thousands of marijuana seeds worth about one and a half
million dollars,'' she said.

``We seized computers and computer records as well as papers and
documentation records, because that is the system that is used for the
trafficking of the seeds.''

Emery, his 35 employees and hundreds of supporters decried the raid as
waste of time and money.

``I thought that it was an absolute waste of my hardearned tax dollars as
well as yours,'' said Sean Price, manager of Hemp B.C.'s Little Grow Store.
``We know what goes on two blocks away from our front door. The heroin
abuse, the cocaine abuse, the extortion, the violence . . . right in front
of the cop shop.''

Emery termed Drennan's contention ``ridiculous and insane'' that the raid
was made in part because of complaints from tourists and nearby businesses,
and said it is ``police propaganda'' that marijuana was linked to the
hardcore cocaine and heroin problems.

``I don't believe it for a minute. We're the biggest magnet of this entire
area and we're the secondlargest employer in Gastown. We pay $37,000 per
month in taxes and we've restored the economic prosperity of this block.
Tourists come here from all over the world,'' said Emery.

Witnesses said the police ``were lying'' that someone tried to grab an
officer's gun during the protest.