Article by Tracy Lamourie
The staff at Hamilton’s best known dispensary say they’ve had enough – and they are ready to fight back. Just what is it that has them so upset? Ironically, it’s not the city – or the raids. They’re upset with the International Village BIA – an entity that exists to represent the interest of local businesses. If that’s the case, they ask – why is the BIA spending so much time trying to shut one of the areas most popular businesses down?
Operating from November 2016 to March of this year as Cannabis Culture until the infamous Project Gator raids, the recreational marijuana shop is now called Hamilton Village Dispensary and is under new ownership.
“We are fed up with the BIA’s multiple attempts at getting the Dispensary shut down,” says new owner, Rex Mekkum, “Every day (Executive Director Susie Braithwaite) is either making invalid bylaw complaints, or reaching out to media in hopes of a raid.”
Britney Guerra, former GM of Cannabis Culture Hamilton states that she had met with Susie on a few occasions. She listened to the BIA’s demands, and did everything they asked whether it was controlling the Cannabis smell on the street, getting adequate ashtrays for outside, or ensuring the safety of the neighborhood. After agreeing to all of these terms, Project Gator, a Toronto Police investigation took Guerra out of the Dispensary industry and away from the International Village.
“I am very disappointed with the International Village’s approach to the Dispensary. There is no difference between what Cannabis Culture was, and what is there now, minus the ownership. Her negative attitude towards the most successful business in the BIA is concerning. While Braithwaite has repeatedly stated that it has nothing to do with Marijuana, this is clearly not the case. The restaurant that was there prior to Cannabis Culture had no issues with the BIA. In fact, they never met her. So why is it, that a progressive business that brings thousands of customers to her BIA (without incident) would be targeted? Clearly Cannabis is the issue here.”
The local cannabis community plans to confront the local BIA in their own backyard on Monday May 15 – and the media is invited. Hamilton activists say Marc Emery may make an appearance to support the local cause.
The event Facebook page states : “The International BIA has repeatedly harassed Hamilton Village Dispensary all while we have tried to work with Susie Braithwaite and the International Village. Our former owner with Cannabis Culture had met with her, and worked with her answering the BIA’s demands. Since CC bowed out of Hamilton, HVD has been nothing but attacked from the BIA. Please come out and support your safe access to Cannabis! Free Joints and prizes will be given out!”
“We employees of Hamilton Village Dispensary organized this rally out of pure desperation,” Mekkum said, ” We want to show Susie what her BIA could become, if our Dispensary and others are forced out, because we don’t fit her idea of what is acceptable for “her” neighborhood.”
Supporters are asked to meet at the Hamilton Village Dispensary (275 King St E) at 10:00 am on Monday May 15. The group will walk together to 12 Ferguson Ave North to protest in front of the International Village BIA office.