CANNABIS CULTURE – Burnaby RCMP raided the Metrotown Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary today, arresting the manager and two directors, Cannabis Culture has learned.
Various trafficking charges were recommended against the three before they were released, according to their attorney Kirk Tousaw.
Directors of Burnaby’s only marijuana dispensary say their storefront location, which opened its doors on April 15, 2011 across from the Metrotown shopping complex (4927 Kingsway), has been shuttered by local cops, who confiscated all medicine and cash on the premises.
The organization received a positive response from local police and Burnaby’s Mayor upon opening, and the cause for the RCMP raid is not yet known.
Burnaby RCMP said they had “no information” when contacted by Cannabis Culture.
This raid is the fourth by RCMP in recent months at British Columbia medical marijuana dispensaries, the first at the Be Kind Medical Clinic in Chilliwack on June 22, the second at the North Island Compassion Club in Courtenay on July 15 and another at the Langley Medical Marijuana Dispensary on July 22.
Though medical marijuana dispensaries are not officially licenced by Health Canada and are technically illegal, recent court cases and acceptance by local authorities have put them in a kind of grey area. Until recently, compassion clubs have been operating successfully across Canada for over a decade with little interference from authorities.
“At a time when the courts are striking down the medical marijuana laws because sick and suffering Canadians can’t access this medicine, I’m very surprised that Burnaby RCMP would take this step.” said Tousaw, who is also executive director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation and attorney for the Dispensary in a press release. “We will, if necessary, vigorously pursue a defence on Charter grounds and I have every reason to think it will be successful.”
Though recent statistics showing the crime rate at its lowest since 1973 in Canada, the governing Conservative party has promised to crack down on “unreported crimes”. Stats also show that arrests for possession of marijuana have jumped by 14% since last year, which has activists wondering if it’s all part of a coordinated effort by the Federal government to crack down on marijuana users.
“The Conservative government is ignoring more than a decade of court decisions, massively restricting the medical marijuana program and instructing local police to conduct raids on medical marijuana dispensaries,” said Jacob Hunter, policy director of the Beyond Prohibition Foundation. “At the same time, we’ve seen a substantial increase in arrests for simple marijuana possession, attempts to pass mandatory minimum sentences for growing even a single marijuana plant, billion dollar increases in prison spending, and all while government is looking to cut billions from it’s deficit. Why is Stephen Harper wasting taxpayer money on this ideological war against sick and dying Canadians over a plant that more Canadians want legalized than voted for Conservative candidates?”
The raids come as Health Canada has published proposed rules for governing medical marijuana in Canada, which have been widely criticized by marijuana activists. The proposed changes include eliminating personal production licences and patient identification cards, and building a system of private for-profit marijuana growers and sellers who would provide to all patients in Canada. The new rules do not mention the many marijuana dispensaries currently open across the country.
Med-pot advocacy group The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries is currently asking patients who use marijuana as medicine to join their national campaign “to have medical cannabis dispensaries recognized as legal providers of medical cannabis” by signing an endorsement online.
More news on this issue soon…