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In a nationally coordinated raid codenamed “Operation Gator,” Cannabis Culture locations across Canada were singled out and attacked. At least five people including Marc Emery, Jodie Emery, Chris Goodwin, Erin Goodwin and Britney Guerra were taken by force and are being held until bail hearings can be held in Toronto. Locations in Toronto were raided and the Ottawa store was assaulted around 11 AM EST.
Kirk Tousaw, Lawyer for the Emery’s and all Cannabis Culture employees was quoted in the National Post to say “Co-ordinated countrywide raids attempting, futilely, to enforce an outdated and harmful law degrades public confidence in the administration of justice, wastes valuable taxpayer funds, wastes scarce police, prosecutorial and judicial resources and benefits precisely no one.”
At the same time as the Ontario bombardment, Vancouver’s CCHQ head shop, vapor lounge and the studio space of Pot TV/Cannabis Culture News were raided by a battalion of heavily armed VPD before the businesses had opened for the day.
No arrests were made in Vancouver.
Employees arrived to discover the locks had been cut from security gates, doors forced open and windows covered with brown paper to obstruct a view of their workplace. Police blocked the alleyways behind and entrances to the Hastings street locations, preventing staff from entering even as employees begged to be let in to feed the shop’s cats.
Members of the staff stayed in front of the store and stood bravely in opposition to the police blocking the lane. “We’re here and we’re staying here,” said Cannabis Culture employee Alyssa Vail as she sat on her skateboard in front of a police van, flanked by two of her co-workers. Their display of solidarity was met with a chorus of horn honks from supportive drivers-by as members of the general public and patronage joined the staff in protest to police bully tactics.
During the raid, the officers present said they were assisting the Toronto Police Department in an ongoing investigation and did not produce a warrant until much later in the day. Members of the staff and public watched as uniformed and plainclothes police officers loaded boxes into unmarked vans and hours later exited the scene. Upon entering the building, staff learned the boxes were filled with computers, cell phones (many from the lounge’s lost & found) as well as components of the business’ pos system, staff iPods and the production equipment used by the documentary and news team in the Pot Tv studios. The locations were ransacked, art removed from the walls, filing cabinets pried open, and a combination lock safe used to hold deposits had been blown wide open.
The police had also removed hard drives from computers held in a broom closet and left the shattered towers smashed in the hallway.
Cannabis Culture dispensary locations in the city went unmolested by police. The storefront raided at 307 West hastings sells glassware, apparel, and books as well as minimal amounts of infused health and wellness products. The Vapour lounge, also breached by police is an 18+ congregation space that hosts jam nights and karaoke as well as the business office of Cannabis Culture and the headquarters of the BCMP (British Columbia Marijuana Party – a registered political organization). The site also houses the production studio for Pot TV and Cannabis Culture Magazine. All production computers, a personal laptop and all communications devices on the scene were seized by police. Cannabis Culture magazine is an autonomous web-based news service followed by millions of people and operating since the early 1990s. Pot TV began broadcasting five years before the existence of YouTube and is amongst the original web-based broadcasters on the world wide web. Both outlets are autonomous of the parent company, with independent oversight and are funded exclusively on ad the ad revenues raised by the news agencies.
At the scene, employees called the locations attacked by police safe-spaces for peaceful people to gather.
This story continues to develop, stay tuned for further updates.
Note this story produced with notes from Roy Berger and the Cornwall Free News