Police Commissioner Recommends Clearer Policies Around Dispensary Raids

A letter from the province’s police complaint commissioner sent to police boards in Vancouver and Victoria urged the two cities to clarify their policies on procedure around the enforcement of cannabis dispensaries.

While municipal police in the cities are able to use their own judgement to determine if and when they raid dispensaries, commissioner Stan T. Lowe wrote that criteria needs to be established that shows clear public safety risks before dispensaries are raided in the future.

Lowe said Vancouver police need “clear, objective policy to guide officers,” in a Nov. 20 letter to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Vancouver police have previously said they will only raid dispensaries that have ties to organized crime or are selling to minors.

 “The Victoria Police Department could benefit from the creation of a clear and objective policy in the area of enforcement as it relates tomarihuana dispensaries,” wrote Lowe in a Dec. 29 letter to mayors Barbara Desjardins and Lisa Helps.

Lowe recommended the police boards develop and implement policy that addresses “the criteria related to determining public safety concerns” and “the process necessary to engage in enforcement action.” The recommendations are non-binding for the police boards.

“It is clear that the Victoria Police Department could benefit from further clarity with respect to the Board’s position on the legal status of marihuana dispensaries and how criminal legislation is to be enforced by Victoria police officers,” Lowe wrote in the letter.

Head of the Simon Fraser University criminology school Neil Boyd said the creation of new policies around dispensaries makes sense as the businesses operate in a “funny middle ground between medical marijuana use and adult recreational use.”

Lowe’s recommendations hold no sway over municipalities in the province where law enforcement in provided by the RCMP, who have recently increased raids of cannabis related businesses in the last several months.