A Vancouver police drug squad’s raid on an East Vancouver marijuana dispensary has likely spooked staff at similar storefronts, of which there are more than 30 in Vancouver operating illegally.
But the owner of the shop that was searched by police, a Weeds Glass and Gifts at 2580 Kingsway, suggests dispensary operators actually have little to worry about if they learn from his mistake.
According to Don Briere, who owns stakes in eight Weeds Glass and Gifts outlets, VPD officers showed up because his Kingsway location crossed one of the unwritten rules within which Vancouver’s marijuana dispensaries operate.
“We had clones [young plants] there that we were selling to sick people who couldn’t afford to buy [dried] cannabis,” he told the Straight. “Even though it wasn’t a grow-op, the clones were growing. And the police do not want growing going on.”
Briere said the East Vancouver location reopened for business almost immediately after VPD officers left the area.
“We support the police,” he added. “Everything is cool.”
According to a VPD media release, police felt the Kingsway dispensary was “operating in an unsafe manner”. It states that charges will be recommended.
In a telephone interview, Const. Brian Montague wouldn’t discuss details of an investigation he described as ongoing with charges pending. But he did confirm that it was a specific grievance that prompted police to move on the East Vancouver Weeds Glass and Gifts.
“We have a priority-based approach to policing,” Montague said. “The dispensaries, generally, are a low priority for us. We focus our drug investigations more on the trafficking of drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. But public safety is our main concern, and there is a potential for something that is not a priority to become a priority, which is basically what has happened here.”
Montague noted that it is unusual for the Vancouver police to conduct an operation against a marijuana dispensary.
October 2013 was the last time such enforcement action occurred, he noted. And before that, it was as far back as “2011 or early-2012” that the Vancouver police busted a marijuana dispensary.
“We’ve been pretty clear it’s not a priority for us,” Montague said. “But there are risks that these operators are taking. These are illegal. And if we believe that public safety is becoming an issue, then they will become a priority.”