Vancouver police make arrests at Weeds marijuana store amid regulation debate

BY MATTHEW ROBINSON, VANCOUVER SUN APRIL 29, 2015

Vancouver police make arrests at Weeds marijuana store amid regulation debate

The political showdown between the Harper government and Vancouver intensified Tuesday in advance of city council’s consideration of a plan to strictly regulate the fast-growing pot dispensary business.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

Vancouver police officers raided a marijuana dispensary in Kitsilano on Wednesday, one day after city councillors voted to send a plan to regulate the illegal shops to public hearing.

Police began investigating Weeds Glass and Gifts at 2916 West 4th Avenue in March after a 15-year-old allegedly bought marijuana-infused edibles at the shop, according to a Vancouver Police Department news release.

Officers armed with a search warrant seized evidence during the raid, arrested staff and identified customers. They were all released pending further investigation, according to the release.

Don Briere, the owner of 11 Weeds Glass and Gifts shops in Vancouver, said in a statement he supported police and believed they were just doing their job. “The 4th avenue store was raided today because there was an employee who might have sold to a minor and I do believe overdosed on it. The employee will be reprimanded and most likely fired for it,” he said. The shop will reopen after police leave, according to the statement.

Police warned operators and staff at marijuana dispensaries in the VPD release, stating they could be subject to criminal charges while owners or landlords could potentially face asset forfeiture. Sergeant Randy Fincham, a VPD spokesman, used the analogy “the tallest nail gets hit first” to describe the department’s policy on marijuana earlier this month. He said officers deal first with drug dealers who supply to children, draw community concern and complaints, or are violent or prey on marginalized people.

The federal government opposes the city’s plan to regulate pot shops and told police Tuesday they should crack down on them instead. A Weeds Glass and Gifts shop on Kingsway was raided last August “for operating in an unsafe manner,” according to VPD. A month later, officers raided Budzilla at 2267 Kingsway for selling products “to virtually anyone that walked in the door.” Earlier that year police raided Jim’s Weeds Lounge at 882 East Hastings St., alleging that marijuana was being purchased at the store then sold to neighbourhood youth.

The department has obtained nine search warrants for marijuana dispensaries in the past 18 months, according to police.

Source: mrobinsonvancouversun.com 29th April 2015

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