Maple Ridge Dispensary Confident in Legalization

A Maple Ridge compassion club is hoping changing attitudes on cannabis legalization will allow him to reopen his business.

Paul Hallelujah’s Weeds Glass and Gifts was forced to shut its doors after bylaw officers told him he couldn’t operate without a business license. On Oct. 26, Hallelujah received a $200 fine for displaying an “Open” sign on his building.

Hallelujah is now waiting for a meeting with Maple Ridge mayor Nicole Read on Nov. 10.

“We don’t issue business licences on illegal businesses,” said Read. “The laws are the laws, and we have to uphold that at the local level.”

The city now has three medical cannabis dispensaries, which local RCMP have promised to monitor.

“The Ridge Meadows RCMP continue to be concerned with all of the businesses in Maple Ridge that distribute controlled substances without the legal authority to do so,” said detachment commander David Fleugel, in a letter to Hallelujah.

Fleugel said authorities typically do not place charges or resources onto cannabis related businesses lightly, as the litigious nature of the issue requires a high level of resources.

The Vancouver Police Department’s approach to dispensaries was mentioned by Fleugel, where police will only get involved when businesses are found selling or advertising to minors, or organized crime is involved.

“Obviously, the legal landscape around cannabis in Canada continues to evolve and the Ridge Meadows RCMP will honour any forthcoming legislative changes,” Fleugel said, referencing the recent election win for Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals.

With Trudeau promising cannabis legalization, Hallelujah hopes this is his opportunity to have a business in Maple Ridge, similar to shops in Vancouver.

Hallelujah is partnered with Vancouver’s Don Briere, who owns 21 storefronts under the names Weeds and Mary Jane’s.

Briere expected 30 new stores to open in the next months, with a focus on Toronto.

“Things are really, really good,” Briere said. “We won the election.”

Briere said he believes it will take about 18 months for legalization of recreational cannabis to come to Canada.

“We’re going full steam ahead,” Briere said. “We want 100 per cent of the people to be able to access legal marijuana if they want to.”