Article by Brook, Dankr.ca
Jane Dope is a British Columbia native who moved to Toronto to take part in the massive dispensary boom the city has been experiencing this past year. Dankr met with her to find out what it was like to be caught up in a police raid and how it has affected her life.
Dankr: What made you want to work in a dispensary?
Jane Dope: Well I think like most of us we all kind of sold weed back in the day and were kind of good at it and honestly I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve worked in a lot of different industries and done a lot of different things and there are certain things I’m good at. I’m good at the office job: I’m good at management and that kind of stuff. Not so much in the traditional sense though, most offices drive me insane and don’t care about the workers. It’s boring. I’m very fortunate to have found an industry that I’m just good at. I understand it. I’m interested in it. I’m learning from it. I’ve grown so much and I can take all the skills I’ve learned in these other corporate gigs and apply it. And they marry perfectly. I feel it’s a calling. I don’t want to get all existential about it. It’s something I’m doing good at and it’s going to be a really good thing in the next couple years. So, I mean, why wouldn’t I. I’ve got this ability and it’s going to be a billion dollar industry. I should have a little nibble of that. That would be nice.
Did you hear about the dispensary raids back in May?
I heard about them. I was packing up and getting ready to go in Vancouver and we heard about those raids and wasn’t so sure what that was all about. People said, “oh, they were searching for hard drugs”. We didn’t get proper information in Vancouver. I didn’t really know much about the raids till I started working at Canna Clinic. The person who hired me had been involved in the raid and she said “it’s a risk but know that our lawyers will cover all legal fees if anything happens”. And I guess in my naivety I thought, ‘that’s taken care of then, I don’t have to worry about it. There’s no real problem. I’ll just carry on with my job.’ Nobody really knew what happened in a raid and they didn’t really think it was going to happen again cause it was just this random thing that they did.
I didn’t think it would happen again. I think I thought they were done with that. They had busted all the bad guys and then they would just carry on because in BC the Vancouver police said “we don’ t care anymore, we’re not going to raid anybody. Don’t cause problems and we won’t cause problems.” (12) So that’s what I thought would happen here. And then we were raided July 26th.
How long were you working there before the raid?
I worked a shift, didn’t work a shift, I worked a shift, didn’t work a shift. They had been closed on certain days to avoid a raid. And didn’t tell us that was why they were closed. It was my 5th shift and I was running it like a boss when 3 hours into it the cops walked in.
Did Canna Clinic tell you what you were doing was illegal?
Yeah, I didn’t walk into it not knowing the risk. I knew there was a risk, and I can’t really say they down played it because how do you know what’s going to happen? How do you know how the police are going to react from one day to the next? You really don’t.
If I’d moved to Toronto today and heard the stories about how every other day a store is getting raided I probably wouldn’t have jumped into it. Also, Canna Clinic would probably have said, “as you know every place is getting raided”. At The beginning of my interview first thing she said was “before we move forward I want to inform you guys of the risks (20:00) because I don’t want to go through this whole thing with you and then you say, ‘actually I’m afraid to do this.’ I just want you to know, this is the risk if the police come in.” I didn’t know that they’d received a letter. I didn’t know that they were shutting down out of risk of a raid. I didn’t know what was going on at that time so I wasn’t on high alert. So when it went down I realized this was a real risk to us in this place, in this situation, not just a general risk in the industry. That’s what threw us. I don’t really know how much they knew versus how much they were supposed to tell us. Then again I had only been there for 5 days so I don’t know if they said anything or if other people knew what was really going on but it seemed like everyone was really shocked. Like they weren’t expecting it to happen when it did.
How did you first realize that you were being raided?
When I saw the police officer, it all happened really quickly.
I was really distracted, it was super busy. And then I look up and next thing I know I see the supervisor and the assistant manager saying “everybody go, get out”. And I was like what? What is this? I don’t know, I don’t know what you guys do. So I get up and I turn and I see a cop. And I have a Canna Clinic shirt on. The guy asks me, “do you work here,” What can I say, I was caught red handed. That was my moment when I realized what was happening. I didn’t understand the severity of it but I understood what was happening in that moment. I heard something in the back, like a big bang, which was apparently them kicking in the office door. But from where I was I couldn’t see but I heard it and just figured someone had dropped something. The store was full of people.
And then there were cops everywhere.
One of the kids had handcuffs on… next thing you know they’re taking his handcuffs off. From what I understand he served the undercover police officer and they put handcuffs on him but as soon as they realized they couldn’t handcuff all 17 employees they uncuffed him. The place was packed, there were over 30 customers. They didn’t read us our rights; they just started asking if we worked there.
So once they asked you if you worked there, what did they do with the shoppers?
Customers were told to leave. They were not implicated in anything. The police didn’t care.
Did they take people’s names down?
They checked some peoples ID. They took all the employees IDs. They checked some of the customers IDs before they told them to go.
Were all the officers plain clothed?
About half and half. We had some plain clothes and we had all the rest, in their uniforms and vests, come in afterwards.
What did the police take from the store?
All the product. All the cannabis product. All the oil, all the tinctures, all the balms, all the flower and all the cash.
Did they take the Point of Sale system?
I don’t know. There would be no point. It’s not like they can turn it on and get customer data. It’s a program which most of the dispensaries use. They just use this program – app or site – so that the cops can’t steal the POS system info. They can just take the computer and trying to get into it without my email and password? Are they going to do that? And why?
How long did they hold you in the store for?
We were all afraid we were going to jail and again we thought they wouldn’t take all 17 of us. So they held us in the store and we were there for a couple hours. Two to four hours, maybe until, the last person came out. They had to go through every single thing. They had to take everybody’s ID then we had to sit there as they had to go back to the station and print out all the paperwork. Then they came back and went through it with each person. Some of the officers told us they didn’t want to be there. Other officers were dicks about it and got in people’s faces telling these 20-something year old kids that it would never be legal. It’s surprising that people still have this attitude towards medical cannabis. It’s interesting to see how people within the police force agree or disagree with what they were ordered to do.
What was the processing like?
At the time, kind of a joke. I think that’s because we were all together. We were all in our store, our space. We were running around the store playing Pokémon Go. That was the big joke, we were snap chatting. Talking with each other. The demeanor changed as they took each one of us aside, read us our rights, had us sign our paperwork and the promise to appear. Then we had to leave. So as the group diminished the store got quieter and sadder. Afterwards we all met up with the manager and the general manager and they talked to us about what was going to happen and what the next steps were going to be. We were given the information to contact the lawyer and set up meetings with him.
What was the fallout of the raid?
Technically we were arrested and charged and held so it had our charges, a promise to appear with a condition that you could no longer be at this location and that you can no longer be found in any place known to dispense marijuana. Which pretty much takes everyone’s jobs away. You can’t work at that store anymore or in any other dispensary. So the full time job that you have has been taken away. You could either sign the paperwork and go home, or you can go to jail and see how that works for you. No one wants to go to jail so we all signed our papers, gave them to the lawyer and he dealt with it from there.
When you met up with the managers, was that the same day?
That was the same night. They called everybody and we all met in a pub and they bought us all dinner and some drinks to calm our nerves and say sorry.
Did Canna Clinic offer to keep you employed in another way?
Kind of. They said they would try to look for work off site for us. There didn’t say what it would be but they said they would figure something out.
One of the upper managers said that they needed girls for promo and asked if I wanted to do it. I was willing to do anything for money at that point. I just lost my job. So they said they would call me.
Promo is wearing Canna Clinic crop tops and booty shorts and walking around handing out cards and telling people about Canna Clinic. It’s not bad, but it invites a lot of nasty comments. I didn’t agree with the uniform so started wearing black pants and a tank top and they didn’t mind. Promo was just something to give us something to do cause we couldn’t work in a dispensary.
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