by Andrew Fleming
A single RCMP officer stood guard outside the Da Kine Glass & Gifts medical cannabis dispensary Thursday afternoon less than 24 hours after three people were arrested at the retail outlet located in a strip mall at the corner of 104 Avenue and 152 Street in Guildford.
Surrey RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Alanna Dunlop said police were responding to a complaint about possible criminal activity inside the facility.
“We did get information that this location was possibly selling marijuana-type products,” said Dunlop. “We attended and based on our observations, we initiated a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act investigation. Three people have been arrested and subsequently released and our investigation is ongoing.”
Police are now waiting for a warrant to enter the premises and have been guarding the facility to ensure no one enters it.
Da Kine is one of 13 B.C. dispensaries owned and operated by Don Briere, including six in Vancouver where the local police have adopted a hands-off approach towards enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
Employee John Tower said over the phone that at least six RCMP officers attended the scene for several hours Sept. 28, which he called a questionable use of taxpayer resources given that Liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to legalize recreational cannabis use. A federal task force is expected to release a report in November, and Health Minister Jane Philpott said marijuana legislation would be introduced in spring 2017.
Tower said he was unaware of any complaints about the Surrey dispensary from neighbours, that cannabis products were only ever sold to customers with medical prescriptions and never to anyone under the age of 19. He added that he hoped the warrant may ultimately be denied by a sympathetic judge.
“What we are hoping is we will get a pro-marijuana judge that will basically say ‘what is the point?’ If we don’t and we get a conservative judge, then they could get a warrant to go in,” said Tower. “We haven’t had any of our locations have this happen yet, so it’s a big shock to all of us.”
Dunlop pointed out it is the RCMP’s job to enforce the law and selling cannabis from unregulated dispensaries remains illegal.
“Access to cannabis is only permitted under the terms and conditions set out in the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), and storefronts selling marijuana are not authorized to sell for medical or any other purposes,” she said. “These operations are illegally supplied and provide products that are unregulated and maybe unsafe, so an illegal storefront distribution and sale of cannabis in Canada are subject to law-enforcement action.”