After being raided by RCMP in Campbell River Wednesday afternoon, Trees Dispensary said it plans to remain open for patients and fight any charges.
Opening less than a week ago, Trees community liaison Alexander Robb said RCMP quickly came by the shop to ask questions about staff, product and licensing. Five days later they returned, seizing all cash, cannabis flowers and extracts along with detaining manager Ben Hinton, who was later released with no charges.
“We were pretty surprised at the speed they moved on this,” said Robb, who said that the dispensary has obtained legal council in the event that any charges are filed against the business.
Trees was the second dispensary in the town after the opening of WeeMedical several weeks ago, which remains in operation. Robb said he was unsure why one store was raided and not the other.
“From what I understand they have had contact with the RCMP, they’ve visited the store, but there has not been a search warrant executed,” Robb said. “It might be a case of the RCMP seeing the one open up and that being a kind of anomaly, but when they saw the second cannabis dispensary open up they wanted to send a message to anyone else who’s considering opening up a dispensary that they will raid them and take all of the money and the product as soon as possible.”
While Trees will remain open in the town with a limited selection of product, Robb said he has already filed for a business license in the town and will speak before city council Apr. 25 to discuss the development of licensing options.
Robb said it’s still an uncertain road for dispensaries in Canada while everyone waits to hear from the federal government for regulations that Robb said are just the beginning of the process.
“It’s going to be the provinces that have to come up with their own programs and it’s going to be the municipalities that need to decide on the zoning of any kind of cannabis business,” he said.
Robb is hopeful that the cannabis industry will continue to expand as laws are changed but that closures will continue.
“I think it will get to the point where we see many canons dispensaries close, not by the RCMP but the economics,” he said. “There’s a sense that the cannabis industry in Canada right now is a new gold rush, or green rush, and that’s the little misconstrued.”