Three weeks after cease-and-desist letters ordered city dispensaries to be shut down, the RCMP have moved against the businesses.
Phoenix Pain Management Society, Nature’s Source Society and Trees Dispensary have been reported to have been raided.
Phoenix Pain Management Society operator Matthew O’Donnell said he wasn’t on the premises when police entered with a search warrant, but two volunteers were detained.
“Both of them were senior citizens,” said O’Donnell. “Can you imagine what’s going through their minds as they’re being thrown into a cop car because they’re senior citizens that use medicinal cannabis, both of whom have licences and cards?”
O’Donnell said police are currently in his business and have restricted access to only RCMP.
“They took everybody out and now they’re doing whatever they want in there,” said O’Donnell. “We don’t know what they’re doing.”
“I can confirm that today, Nanaimo RCMP have executed search warrants at three storefronts,” said Cpl. Jon Stuart in an issued statement. “These warrants were judicially authorized and Nanaimo RCMP has worked closely with the Public Prosecution Service Canada (PPSC), from the start of these investigations.”
“We believe issuing the notification was a fair and measured approach, providing time for consultation and compliance.”
“For instance, we had a grandmother allege her 15 year old grandchild had purchased marihuana from a storefront,” Stuart’s statement read. “Some of the storefronts were actively soliciting business by having sales people stand outside and/or waving signs to solicit customers, whether or not they had prescriptions.”
“When I have reports of storefronts selling marihuana to youth and concerned community members approaching me about it, we are compelled to take enforcement action,” said Supt. Mark Fisher.
O’Donnell said the complaint in the press release was so vague that he questioned its authenticity.
“We saw their ridiculous press release this morning,” said O’Donnell. “It’s grasping at straws. Go ahead and make these ridiculous claims — people aren’t stupid, they know how ridiculous that sounds.”
Stuart said the RCMP looked at the dispensaries the same way they would treat alcohol or prescription medicine being sold on a street corner.
“We cannot permit an illegal substance to be sold in a similar manner, particularly when people have complained about it,” Stuart stated. “There is no legal mechanism in Canada which allows for ‘medicinal marihuana dispensaries’ or ‘compassion clubs’ to sell or gift to the public.”
With three dispensaries currently being searched by police and two that had chosen to shut down before the RCMP’s deadline, five businesses remain in operation, for now.
“You made this threat to all the dispensaries and now you’re just targeting three?” said O’Donnell. “It makes me curious if maybe they’re using it to try and pick people off one by one.”
O’Donnell said the Nanaimo Cannabis Coalition remains strong and united but is disappointed with the actions of the RCMP that seem to contradict public and political opinion.
“I hate to sound over dramatic, but it sounds like a police state to me.”
“For the RCMP to do this is a waste of money and a waste of resources,” said O’Donnell. “They’re wasting all this tax money to bust these medicinal cannabis users but at the same time, in about six months from now we’re going to be contributing through tax revenue. The hypocrisy is just massive.”
RCMP have said they will not be commenting further on the issue.