The Mobile Access Compassionate Resources Organization Society (MACROS) was the only dispensary in the Edmonton area before police shut-down the compassion club after more than a decade in operation.
MACROS president Aaron Bott told Cannabis in Canada the dispensary had never had an issue with law enforcement previously, and that it had previously assisted with investigations and educating the police on cannabis.
“I believe it was political pressure somewhere,” Bott said, speculating why the raid took place after so long in operation. “We were the only above-the-board dispensary in Alberta. I truly believe we were easy pickings for law enforcement.”
Bott, his brother Colin, mother Janice Cyre and stepfather Bob Cyre have all been charged with possession with the intent to traffic and production of a controlled substance.
Bott said his parents were authorized to produce cannabis under the Allard injunction, but that it didn’t stop police from raiding their Strathcona County home and confiscating plants along with raiding MACROS’s storefront.
Bott said he didn’t expect the proceedings to go on how they have.
“We were pretty confident before the court date that they might back down,” Bott said. “We were hoping we were seeing change in the province.”
But Bott said it’s clear his dispensary is being made an example of in Alberta, a province that he said has always been hostile to cannabis.
“For 11 years we kept quiet…now the battle lines have been drawn,” Bott said. “It’s going to be a fight…the government just declared war on cannabis.”
Bott said without the dispensary, more than 1,000 patients, with health problems ranging from cancer to chronic pain, are now without support.
“We’re open on a capacity of getting information for patients as best we can,” Bott said. “But we lost a lot of members that thought they were going to be caught in the [legal] crossfire.”
MACROS is appealing to support wherever they can find it, but so far government hasn’t been willing to step in to help. Bott said he’s tried to get in touch with Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, but has been “stonewalled” as he “wants nothing to do with this.”
MACROS has been in touch with legal representation but, financially, Bott said the legal battle is overwhelming.
“It’s more than our little dispensary can handle,” Bott said. “Without support our dispensary has been drowning.”
The Edmonton group is looking for any aid it can find, from government, the public and other operations across the country, as Bott said this fight isn’t just about beating the charges against them, but legitimizing the cannabis movement in Canada.
“If we go all the way, we want to legalize it,” Bott said. “We would like to know what other dispensaries think and if they could help.”
Bott and his family are scheduled for a court reappearance Oct. 20 where they hope to get additional details on the charges filed against them.