Three Vancouver Island dispensaries raided by police

Kyle Cheyne, the owner of Leaf Compassion dispensary in the quiet town of Chemainus, said he hopes to re-open his storefront tomorrow despite having spent eight hours cooling his heels locked up at the local RCMP detachment.

Mounties raided three separate medical cannabis dispensaries on Vancouver Island yesterday and made numerous arrests. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP also hit the Green Aura Cannabis Dispensary in Chemainus, as well as the Green Tree Medical Dispensary in Duncan on Thursday.

“We are going to be reopening with new staff and the staff will have to acknowledge there is a good chance we are going to get raided again,” Cheyne said over the phone this morning. “The police told me at the end that they are going to continue to take a strong stance and will continue to raid us.”

Cheyne said that, along with handcuffing and hauling away his employees, that police seized between 15 and 20 thousand dollars worth of cannabis products.

Leaf Compassion, which has been open in Chemainus for more than a year and served an estimated 3,500 people, also operate dispensaries in two other areas under RCMP jurisdiction – Port Alberni and Salt Spring Island – and Cheyne says he is frustrated by the discrepancy in regards to enforcement of cannabis laws.

“Over there, the police wave at me and even brought me cookies once,” he said. “It’s a whole different ballgame.”

He added he believes local RCMP’s heavy-handedness is due to pressure from local government officials.

“Basically the Municipality of North Cowichan doesn’t want to have anything to do with marijuana at all. They are being very, very close-minded. In Vancouver and Victoria, police have basically decided that they are not going to be enforcing the law anymore when it comes to marijuana. The RCMP could do the same and say ‘we are not going to enforce this because people deserve access.’ I mean, yes, you’re federal but you’re also individuals.”

Insp. Ray Carfantan said police were acting in the community’s best interests

“The North Cowichan/Duncan Detachment engages in ongoing consultation with the community to ensure that the priorities of the community are reflected in the policing priorities for the Detachment,” said Carfantan in a press release announcing the raids. “The RCMP is guided by the current legislation and the laws as they exist in Canada. While there may be pending changes in the legislation, until such time as this legislation has been passed and new laws enacted, the RCMP will enforce the laws of Canada as they exist today.”

The RCMP could not confirm how many people had been arrested as part of the search and seizures on Thursday and Friday, or if any charges are pending.

Coincidentally, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on Vancouver Island earlier this week and announced during a visit at CFB Esquimalt that the legalization of recreational cannabis is expected for this summer.