Nipped in the Bud

Jordan Kuyvenhoven, left, Ryan Steplock and Britney Anne at the recently opened Metrotown Hemp Shop. The shop replaces the Metrotown Medical Marijuana Dispensary, which was raided by Burnaby RCMP last summer.Jordan Kuyvenhoven, left, Ryan Steplock and Britney Anne at the recently opened Metrotown Hemp Shop. The shop replaces the Metrotown Medical Marijuana Dispensary, which was raided by Burnaby RCMP last summer.Burnaby’s first hemp shop has risen from the ashes of the medical marijuana dispensary in Metrotown, which closed following an RCMP raid last summer.

Britney Anne, former director of the Metrotown Medicinal Society, has done everything possible to reopen as a completely legal business, she said in an interview in the new shop last week.

The Burnaby dispensary is no more. Britney Anne and shop staff kept the doors open following the raid on July 28, to let patients know they would have to go elsewhere for medical marijuana, finally closing on Aug. 31.

Jordan Kuyvenhoven, who was working in the shop on the day of the raid, said it was done respectfully.

“They parked a van out front,” she said. “It was quiet when it happened.”

Britney Anne, Kuyvenhoven and Ryan Steplock have a total of 10 charges against the three of them, with the case going to court in May 2013, Britney Anne said. It’s a risk that people in the dispensary business face, she added.

Britney Anne eventually changed her cellphone number, as people continued to call for months regarding the dispensary, she said.

“We’re trying to run a legal business,” she said of the new shop.

Everything required for operating the dispensary – from about $2,000 worth of marijuana to the computer system – was confiscated during the raid, according to Britney Anne.

“They took everything we had in here,” she said. “We had a lot of debts to pay off.”

But on Jan. 16, the shop reopened as the Metrotown Hemp Shop – a first, she said, for Burnaby, as most hemp or “head” shops are over the border in Vancouver. The shop sells hemp clothing, pipes and other hemp-related products – all legal with a tobacco retail authorization certificate, she said.

Dana Larsen, former B.C. NDP leadership candidate and marijuana legalization advocate, was at the shop to show his support, he said.

Larsen was on the board of the Metrotown Medicinal Society but does not own a share in the new business, he said.

He was disappointed that the dispensary was raided in Burnaby, when there are 12 dispensaries in Vancouver and one in Maple Ridge that have been left alone, he said.

“It’s hurting a lot of patients in this city,” he said.

Businesses in the area were supportive of the dispensary, he and Britney Anne said.

“The only ones not happy were the RCMP,” Larsen added

The day after the raid, Cpl. Rick Skolrood of the Burnaby RCMP told the NOW that the society also had a business licence violation but said that was under the jurisdiction of the city, not the police.

The City of Burnaby’s business licence office did not respond to requests from the NOW regarding the hemp shop’s current application.

The hemp shop is operating under a temporary business permit while awaiting approval for a permanent licence.

The society invited the Burnaby RCMP to the dispensary when it first opened, but the police did not respond.

At the time, Burnaby RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Brenda Gresiuk said that compassion clubs and dispensaries aren’t legally entitled to sell marijuana under Canadian law.

“To date, there’s no legal mechanism for that,” she said.

She refused to comment in April on whether or not action would be taken by the RCMP against the dispensary.

Health Canada does not license such organizations to possess, produce or distribute marijuana for medical purposes, according to a June 2010 press release, sent by media relations officer Olivia Caron last year.

The Metrotown Hemp Shop is located at 4927 Kingsway and is open Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– Article from Burnaby Now.

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