Article by Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun via Financial Post
The Nanaimo RCMP has followed through on a threat to raid marijuana dispensaries if they didn’t shut down. On Tuesday, the police announced they raided three dispensaries they had warned to close.
The RCMP would not reveal the name of the stores or what they found. They also declined to explain whether there were concerns over organized crime that would make the raids necessary, or whether the action was in keeping with practices at other RCMP detachments.
However, Travis Lane, the general manager of Trees Dispensary, said his store, along with ones owned by Phoenix Pain Management Society and Nature’s Source Society were served with search warrants executed. In a post on its Facebook page, Phoenix Pain Management said two of its members, both seniors, had been arrested.
RCMP did not indicate if they had arrested anyone. However, in a long note posted on its website said it had received “several complaints” from the public about illegal marijuana storefronts, including one from a grandmother who believes her 15-year-old grandchild had bought pot from a storefront.
In mid-November, the Nanaimo RCMP sent warning letters to at least 10 shops selling marijuana, ordering them to shut down. It said the sale of the drug was not permitted. It said on Tuesday that two shops had shut down, but would not say if police were now going after the rest.
The RCMP’s actions in Nanaimo are in stark contrast to the way the city of Vancouver is handling the proliferation of marijuana shops. Earlier this year the city decided to issue business licences for shops that comply with certain zoning requirements. It undertook the program after more than 100 illegal shops opened, some near schools.
Although marijuana remains illegal, the city said it would use land use and zoning bylaws to control where shops could open. After council approved the plan in June, the city received 177 applications. In October it announced that 11 applications had passed the first stage and could now apply for development permit applications. Those sites are at least 300 metres away from schools, community centres and neighbourhood centres.
Andreea Toma, Vancouver’s licensing director said on Tuesday that another 20 applications are within 300 metres of each other and the city is “going through a declustering exercise” that may see six or seven locations approved.