A storefront in southeast Vancouver is the third marijuana dispensary busted by police in less than three months.
Today (September 2) officers executed a search warrant against Budzilla located at 2267 Kingsway.
According to a Vancouver Police Department media release, authorities had received numerous complaints regarding how the business was conducting operations.
“The products comprised of dry marijuana and THC-infused edibles, including candy and cookies,” it states. “The appearance and packaging of many of these items could be potentially very appealing to children.”
The release also claims Budzilla was selling pot to people who did not possess federal licences required to possess medicinal cannabis.
For years now, Vancouver police have maintained a relaxed attitude towards marijuana storefronts. VPD chief Jim Chu has repeatedly stated that a dispensary does not meet law enforcement agencies’ criteria for a “priority” target.
However, the VPD has also made clear it will move against any dispensary deemed to have crossed one of the unwritten rules within which Vancouver storefronts operate.
Some of those guidelines were outlined in a March 5 media release.
“Vancouver is not a wide open city for the marijuana trade,” Chu said there. “Anyone who opens an illegal business, to sell an illegal product, is taking a risk that they could be charged criminally.”
That rhetoric was however tempered by details about how the VPD is actually enforcing rules governing the cultivation, sale, and possession of medical marijuana.
The release states that VPD drug unit priorities include upper-level drug traffickers, gang members, dealers responsible for violence, and traffickers selling hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
“For the most part, medical marijuana dispensaries operating today in Vancouver do not meet these criteria,” it continued.
After moving against Budzilla, the VPD issued a couple of additional tips for how the city’s other pot shops—which now number more than 45—can avoid a visit from police.
The takeaway from today’s VPD action: Don’t sell to customers who don’t possess a federal licence, and don’t bake edibles that look like the sort of candy a child might enjoy.
Those not-so-subtle hints build on earlier suggestions the VPD has made with the execution of previous search warrants.
When Weeds Glass and Gifts at 2580 Kingsway was raided by police on June 23, cops said they showed up because that location was also being used to grow young plants (otherwise known as clones).
And when Jim’s Weed Lounge at 882 East Hastings Street was busted on July 24, police said the reason was because customers were reselling to kids in the area around the shop.
Budzilla’s alleged transgressions again bring to mind a few words of advice that long-time marijuana advocate Bill Maher offered to Colorado shortly after that state legalized the sale of recreational cannabis.
At the end of a rant in defence of marijuana, Maher listed off a few rules he suggested the new cannabis industry abide by if it wants to stay in authorities’ good books.
At the very top of his list: “Stop selling pot products that look like children's candy.”