The chief has been asked at a September meeting by city councillor Eli El-Chantiry to inform the board on Ottawa Police Services’s stance regarding the city’s medical cannabisdispensaries.
Noting that Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi has said it’s up to local police to decide how they approach dispensary enforcement, Bordeleau said the OPS is aware of the dispensaires and is currently undergoing investigation efforts, but wouldn’t detail them at risk of jeopardizing the process.
“The OPS has approached the Federal Crown Attorney’s Office and it has indicated a willingness to prosecute viable files that are presented to them,” Bordeleau wrote in his report. “Each location is to be investigated separately and presented to them on their own merits as an individual file. This is a time-consuming process and requires a great deal of investigative effort if we are to present the best possible evidence to a court.”
Police are prioritizing each location based on several factors, including community concerns with specific dispensaries. Bordeleau said if investigators see an increase in the number of public complaints for a dispensary, it will be taken into consideration in their investigation, but said police only want to receive legitimate complaints.
“By legitimate we are referencing something that goes beyond personal beliefs about marijuana or beliefs that marijuana should not be available to anyone at anytime,” he wrote. “There is a proven and accepted need for medicinal marijuana. It is the limitations surrounding access to that medicinal marihuana that has caused the Supreme Court to indicate that dispensaries are at the heart of access.”
Bordeleau wrote that police are being asked to take action related to an area that is currently undergoing a major shift in acceptance in society and regulations surrounding canons are increasingly difficult to navigate.
“Health Canada has deemed dispensaries to be outside their regulations for medicinal marijuana but there are no enforcement components under those same regulations,” the chief wrote. “The only available option is to criminalize persons engaged in possessing marijuana. That is something Canadians have very clearly asked the Government to ensure no longer takes place.”
Ottawa police noted that a number of shops in the city have closed down as a result of action against them and that landlords are currently being involved in the enforcement process.