Cannabis Life Network spoke to Glenn Price, the owner of Your Medical Cannabis, a medical dispensary, lounge, headshop, and educational centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba that was raided and closed back in 2015. He told us what he’s been up to since his court case, what he thinks of Manitoba’s new legalization plans, and how living in Vancouver inspired him to plead his case.
Cannabis Life Network: Could you tell us a little more about your court case and the charges you were facing?
Glenn Price: Actually, before I ended up in court, I was waiting for the government to send me my growing license and it took over 3 months!
So, after about a month and a half of waiting, I started growing, and when my license finally came, I moved to a different place, and that’s when the police came and I got charged with drug trafficking, proceeds of crime, and a few others.
But, because I had a proper license, they changed it to being a case of not being at the right house. So I ended up getting 2 years of probation, 75 hours of community service, a $6000 fine, and I cannot promote cannabis directly or indirectly.
Even when it becomes legal on July 1st, I can’t do anything in the cannabis business for 2 years!
How long have you been in BC?
I left Manitoba on June 9th, 2017, after I dealt with the charges, but when I got here, I found out that I had the right to appeal my case!
When you plead your case at City Hall, what are you going to say?
“How can they convict me for my dispensary when there are hundreds of shops here doing the exact same thing?”
I even have statements from the Winnipeg Police saying they believe I was only selling to medical cannabis patients because they tried to buy from me 5 times and they couldn’t. I wasn’t selling recreational to anybody- it was get signed up or I’m not selling to you.
It’s really unfortunate because if they let me run my business, along with other people like me, we would’ve stomped out the black market already because they couldn’t compete with us selling for $3/gram. But that was for compassion pricing- I had stuff for $10/gram too because I had to pay rent.
How do you feel about Manitoba’s plans for cannabis?
Well, as soon as I heard that Manitoba was allowing mom-and-pop shops for cannabis I was ready to pack up and head back until I heard that you had to sell government LP (licensed producer) weed.
I will not sell that garbage.
One of Manitoba’s LP’s, Delta 9 Cannabis, only has 5-6 products and their best THC is 14-15%! When I got raided, they sent my stuff to Delta 9 to get tested and my shittiest stuff had 20% and the best I had was 28%- and now Manitoba is saying that cannabis from Delta 9 and others like them are the only cannabis that people can buy?
Who’s going to go to them? It’s just going to make the black market stronger than ever in Manitoba.
It doesn’t give anybody any freedom to pick their growers and choose where their cannabis comes from.
Exactly, and with all the focus on recreational, nobody’s speaking about medical cannabis anymore.
I opened a medical cannabis shop- not recreational- and I only sold to medical patients.
I thought when Delta 9 first got going they signed a contract that said they were not allowed to open storefronts. So what’s changed since then? Why didn’t they change the laws for me?
Delta 9 is trying to monopolize the industry in Manitoba and because of that Manitoba is going to have a bigger black market than they do already.
And you don’t think anybody will want to buy that LP cannabis?
No. I know for a fact because nobody in Manitoba would buy it when I had my shop. Why did they all come to me? Why didn’t they go to Delta, Tilray, or Tweed?
Speaking of Tweed, my wife has smoked since I’ve known her, and that’s the only weed I’ve seen her refuse. She will not smoke that moldy shit. It’s disgusting.
Plus, if the LP’s have that monopoly, there is zero incentive for them to make their products better.
Why would they?
I think what’s going to happen in Manitoba is that with all of these big businesses that are coming in, they might make a little money at first, but once everyone realizes what their product is, the customers are going to go back to where they were getting it before.
How do you feel about the government saying that LP weed is better because they have better standards and testing?
I don’t think so, not at all. Like I said, the THC percentages for cannabis at my store were between 20-28%, and Delta 9’s best stuff is around 15-16%.
And with government LP’s, the only time you hear about a recall is after everyone has already smoked it! Any dispensaries would have caught that before it went out on the shelf!
When I opened my store, if you bought anything from me that you didn’t like, I’d return it, let you exchange it for something else, or give you your money back. I gave you those options, and none of these government LP’s are doing that at all. Or compassion pricing. I used to have products for $3/gram! Are LP’s going to have compassion pricing for people? They’re only in it for the cash.
So do you think the rest of Canada should follow what BC is doing?
Yes, exactly that.
Like any other business you want to start, you pay your taxes, but you aren’t forced to get your supply from the government. If I wanted to sell clothes, I could get knock-offs from wherever and sell them, and it’s up to the customers if they want to buy them.
Why should we be forced to buy our product from the government regime?
If the government wants a $1/gram tax, they can have that tax, we’ll just sell it cheaper to keep the price at where it is now. We can eat that tax- just let us do it!
The government is making us criminals before we even have a chance.
Is your business, Your Medical Cannabis HQ, still open in Winnipeg?
No, I shut it down, or else I’d be in jail right now. They came once, told me to close and I said ok and shut it down for the day. They came back a second time and told me to close again and I said no, so the third time they came back and arrested me.
The reason I did it is because when you start something you do it until the end, and I did it as far as I could.
I don’t want these big companies to come in and monopolize the industry. We brought it this far, and all of a sudden they’re jumping in?
And besides, if what I was doing was such a problem, why did Manitoba give me a business license in the first place? I didn’t hide the fact that I was doing one-on-one consultations and selling cannabis products.
Could you tell me a little about your history in the cannabis community?
I’ve smoked cannabis my whole life, and I never got out of Manitoba until about 6 years ago when my wife and I came to BC for the first time. That was when the whole cannabis dispensary thing was getting started, and we went on Commercial Drive and found you could buy cannabis, but it was closed because it was a Sunday.
Over the next few years, it got easier and easier. And then Jim’s Weeds opened on Hastings. We went in, got signed up, saw the doctor, and I said to them, “You know what? I want to open a shop like this in Winnipeg” and they said find a location and we’ll supply you. My wife thought I was nuts, and I don’t think I became an activist until I opened Your Medical Cannabis HQ in Winnipeg.
If you went back to Manitoba and opened up another shop, would you consider selling recreational?
If I went back right now, I would only do medical until July because I know what Manitoba is like. If you’d asked that question and I hadn’t been arrested, then yeah, I’d be selling recreational right now.
Have you thought about opening up in Vancouver?
I would love to open up in Vancouver and I’ve actually looked around and called a few places but the rent is like WOW. $12,000 a month for a shack on Hastings?! That’s how much I paid a year in Manitoba.
What are your plans for the next little bit? Are you going to stay in Vancouver or move back to Manitoba?
I’ll be in BC for the next year and a half at least, until my probation is over.
But if I successfully plead my case and its overturned before July 1st, I’ll be going back to Manitoba.
But I love Vancouver too, and even after I move back to Manitoba, I’d still be visiting multiple times a year, for the city and its people. There’s big differences, even in the small things. Like in Manitoba, you’d never hear anybody thank the bus driver like they do here in Vancouver and it’s so weird to me!
Do you think the compassionate, people-focused services you provided at Your Medical Cannabis HQ are going to be lost with legalization on July 1st?
I think the politicians need to see first-hand what the people can do, and not just listen to big business. My shop was one-on-one consultations and I dealt with everybody as an individual- not like in Vancouver where it’s just “Next, next, next!”
I did my best to help everybody in every way that I could.
I had this 65 year old lady come into my shop and grab the biggest bong on the shelf. I looked at her and asked if she’d ever smoked in her life, weed or cigarettes, and she said no. I laughed at her, apologized, and told her she wasn’t going to like it. She fired it up and coughed for a few minutes and said that she didn’t like that at all, so I gave her some infused coconut oil and showed her how to make it. She liked that much better than the bong.
Her name was Mary, and she ended up being one of my biggest advocates, bringing in the seniors who wanted to get signed up because they didn’t want any more pain.
Were the seniors trying to use cannabis as an alternative to prescription drugs?
Yeah because they didn’t want that anymore. They wanted what Mary had, because she used to go to a pain management clinic and ended up getting kicked out because she had no more pain!
It worked for them when nothing else did.
I remember another guy, in his early 30’s, who’d done two or three tours with the army, and it almost made me cry when I learned how much cannabis helped him. His girlfriend told me was having bad dreams and the medications they were giving him were screwing him up.
This plant helps so many different ailments, and the government will crucify you if you try to help people.
Did you ever feel like you had a target on your back?
Yeah, but it was because I was the first- but someone’s got to speak up because if they don’t, nothing will ever change. You need to speak to your beliefs and I believed that mom-and-pop shops should be allowed to open in Manitoba.
I did everything that I knew how to keep it legal. I applied for the business licenses and the occupancy permit- the occupancy permit was the hardest to get, and it took over three months!
But that’s how the Liberals are. After I got raided, Trudeau even supported my shop, and I later dealt with Kevin Lamoureux, a Liberal politician in Manitoba, whom I met many times over 5-6 months- at his office, at my shop- and he told me to write to the Standing Committee on Health, and so I did and never heard anything back. Then he said that they’d fly me out there to hear what I had to say, and that never happened either.
But that’s how these politicians are. They’ll tell you what you want to hear but do they follow up on it? They don’t care about us. All they care about is our votes.