MMJ Canada CEO Clint Younge said he believes it’s the provincial government pushing police into action against private dispensaries after yesterday’s raid against his Hamilton location.
Younge said police during the raid were extremely polite, didn’t go into the patient database or paperwork, computers were left untouched and a register full of money remained after authorities left an hour and a half later, actions that, to him, made it clear they are following direction from higher up.
“They reassured me instantly that I wasn’t going anywhere,” Younge said. “They said ‘Clint, unless you have a warrant out for your arrest, you’re leaving in 10 minutes, we’re going to empty your store, then we’re going to call you back and you’re going to lock the doors.’
“They went about it as good as any authority could be and I think, in a time when everybody’s battling and all these things are happening, I don’t think people should be taking shots at authorities and making things worse than it already is.”
Younge said he doesn’t think it’s the city of Hamilton that has been complaining about the dispensary, either.
“We’ve crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ that we possibly could,” Younge said. “I don’t believe it’s the city because the city’s given us an occupancy permit and a food and beverage license because we sell edibles.”
Younge points the finger at the province, where Kathleen Wynne has been pushing for the public liquor retailer, the LCBO, to cover all sales of cannabis in Ontario.
“I think it only gets to a certain point where authorities’ hands are tied and shit runs down onto them and they have to do something about it, which is unfortunate,” he said.
Younge said the city of Hamilton hasn’t fined MMJ once since opening up, a sign to him that they aren’t against retailers opening in the city.
“I really do believe in Hamilton, I don’t believe that they want to waste funds,” he said. “I believe once it gets worked out, Hamilton will be at the forefront of medical cannabis on a dispensary level because of the amount of love and support we’ve received since we opened here.”
Until the government takes action, however, raids may just be part of the cost of doing business for dispensaries in Ontario.
Younge said he likes to look at the cost of raids as a way of paying the equivalent of what a full business license would cost, if it were available (In Vancouver, a year’s license for a dispensary runs $30,000).
While he’s concerned about MMJ Canada being targeted again by police, Younge ultimately believes that private dispnaries will be allowed to operate in a legal system.
Younge said it’s in the province’s best interest to allow for private cannabis retailers to continue to operate to avoid a situation in Vancouver where lawsuits are costing taxpayers and tying up the court system.
“Ontario will go though the exact same thing, but ten-times worse because Toronto’s so massive, unless they smarten up and come up with a system.”
Younge said, looking at the history of cannabis rulings at court, the government hasn’t been that lucky in trying to enforce their position.
“Instead of having to go through all that chaos and variances and appeals…why not set up a system that allows the professional dispensaries that do everything properly, and they can keep up with the rules the government would set, I think it would be an amazing move forward in progress,” he said.
“The politicians in the upper government need to remove their heads from their asses very quickly, they need to start uniting the country instead of dividing.”