On Saturday, April 24, 2004, the Hemp NB store and Cannabis Cafe in Saint John, New Brunswick, was raided by a dozen police officers for allegedly selling medical pot to patients.
The surprise raid, executed with a search warrant, came after what was described by police as a “lengthy investigation.” Police claim that the store, open since 1999, contributed to pot problems amongst local high school students.
The bust came nine months after an announcement made in the summer of 2003 by the store’s owners, Jim and Lynn Wood, that they would soon begin to sell high-grade marijuana from their store to people who need pot for medicinal purposes. The Woods believed there was a real need for a medical cannabis dispensary in the community.
At the time, Jim Wood told the media, “This will be Canada’s first over-the-counter cannabis cafe. Basically, we’re just trying to help people.” Jim Wood even applied to the federal government for a permit to sell medicinal marijuana, but not surprisingly, he didn’t hear back.?
The Woods claimed the marijuana they planned to sell in their store would be of much higher quality than the schwaggy product produced by Canada’s only authorized federal grower, which has been widely criticized as weak and ineffective (CC#46, Canadian feds start selling schwag!).
Those eligible to purchase medical buds over the counter at Hemp NB had to become members through an application process. Prospective members were required to fill out forms and provide a doctor’s letter that stated why they needed med-pot. Those who couldn’t get access to a marijuana recommendation simply applied on their own. However, non-members were permitted to bring their own pot and consume it on the premises, with the purchase of a beverage.
The Woods acknowledged that they were testing the limits of Canada’s decriminalization policy trend, but had hoped the authorities would leave them alone.
Friends of the store owners as well as volunteers present at the time of the raid claim to have been assaulted by police while being arrested.
“Our two volunteers were literally thrown to the ground,” said Jim and Lynn Wood in an interview with Cannabis Culture. “Everyone in the store was searched and taken away while officers tore apart our lives. They stole everything, including our street sign. They answered the phone all day pretending to be us, asking questions to all who called.”
Volunteer Dane Richards told Cannabis Culture that he was thrown on top of another coworker during the arrest. He said of the police, “They took all our bongs, pipes, rolling papers and other merchandise. They even took our stamp pad and garbage.”
Police also illegally seized all of the store’s marijuana-related books and literature, including all of their copies of Cannabis Culture and other marijuana magazines.
Charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking were laid against the Woods and two volunteers, but they reopened the store immediately as a defiant action against the police.
The Hemp NB store desperately needs public support to stay open and continue serving its needy patients. Please send them a donation, or even an email of support.
? Hemp NB: tel 506-652-4367; email [email protected]