The day after being raided by RCMP, Nanaimo’s dispensary community has promised to continue serving patients.

Phoenix Pain Management Society operator Matthew O’Donnell, whose business was raided yesterday, said his operation, along with similarly raided Trees Dispensary, will be open for business despite 16 staff and customer arrests.

“They’ve all been released, after having been charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said those arrested are required to stay away from all local dispensaries and cannot communicate with anyone else involved in the raids — that means the majority of his staff are now unable to work, but, more pressing, patients have no way to access their medicine.

“That’s why we are going to remain open and that’s why we are going to supply medicine to our members, because where else are they going to go?” O’Donnell said. “If they wanted to use the options made available to them by the current Canadian government they would have done that already.”

“People need their medicine and who are we to deny them of it if the government’s not going to supply it to them and they’re not going to make any decision in regards to regulation,” O’Donnell said.

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay said he had no power to stop the RCMP and was not appraised of their plans beforehand.

“I don’t know what their reasons were that they chose the ones they did,” McKay said.

Unlike Vancouver and Victoria, where police have held off on action against dispensaries, Nanaimo and other smaller communities contract local policing to the RCMP and have no say in enforcement.

McKay said the federal government needs to move faster on providing cities with guidelines for dealing with dispensaries.

“The folks running the dispensaries are sorely lacking in credentials and doing the best they can on a trial-and-error basis,” McKay said. “In the meantime, municipalities, patients and the RCMP are caught in the middle.”

The dispensaries promised, at a press conference this afternoon in Nanaimo, that they would reopen later today.

“We continue to be open for our patients and we’re going to open up and if you bust us, we’re going to open up the next day,” O’Donnell stated.