A recent report shows just how many dispensaries have been raided since our legal pot-promising prime minister took power in late 2015.
In the 18 months since Justin Trudeau took control of the federal government, more than 200 dispensaries across the country have been raided. This data was compiled by Toronto-based publication Dankr, and local cannabis activist Freddie Pritchard.
"These last few weeks have been slow, but right now the list is at 204," Pritchard told the Straight during a telephone interview.
Though the vast majority of raids have taken place in Ontario, 25 dispensaries were raided in British Columbia, including just one in Vancouver.
While the Vancouver Police Department assisted the Toronto Police Service in raiding Marc and Jodie Emery's Cannabis Culture Headquarters on West Hastings Street in early March, the VPD has, for the most part, turned a blind eye to over-the-counter marijuana sales, and was doing so even before the City of Vancouver implemented a legal framework for dispensaries in June of 2015.
Pritchard called the country-wide raids "an incredible waste of police resources and tax dollars" that cuts off access for patients, especially in instances when a community's only dispensary is raided.
He acknowledged that registered medical patients have access through licensed producers (LPs), but said that dispensaries are necessary access points for patients because dispensaries can carry a larger number of products and strains.
"Dispensaries fill all the other gaps that LPs don't fill, with waxes, shatter, capsules, butter, creams and topicals, and things like pheonix tears," he said.
The activist opens his weekly 'One Man Smoke Show' on YouTube with a list of dispensaries raided during the previous week. He started compiling the national list after he realized how many businesses and communities were being affected.
"After several shows, I realized that we were seeing busts left and right, and we knew that we were going to see sweeps," he said.
This was before Project Claudia, the May 2016 initiative which saw 43 Toronto dispensaries raided in one day.
Even in Vancouver, where raids are a rarity, Pritchard fears that the federal government has plans to completely eliminate dispensaries.
"I believe they're wiping them all out, because there were never this many raids, ever—even under Stephen Harper," he said.
"I guess it's on tax payers, and all the patients who are denied access, and that just means more suffering."
To illustrate the costs associated with raids, in 2014, a Vancouver media outlet reported that Constable Doug Lepard of the Vancouver Police Department said one raid required nearly 600 hours of police time and in the end, cost taxpayers about $34,000.
Here's the list of unlucky bud businesses in B.C. that have been raided by police since October 19, 2015:
- November 25, 2015: B.C. Pain Society Compassion Club, Mission
- November 28, 2015: S&M Medicinal Sweet Shoppe, Sechelt
- April 5, 2016: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Chilliwack
- April 6, 2016: Trees Dispensary, Campbell River
- April 18, 2016: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Chilliwack (second time in less than two weeks)
- April 28, 2016: Dispensary by the Sea, Sydney
- June 9, 2016: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Powell River
- September 6, 2016: Merritt Compassion Society, Merritt
- September 16, 2016: West Side Alternatives, Port Alberni
- September 22, 2016: Port Alberni Cannabis Club, Port Alberni
- September 28, 2016: Da Kine Glass and Gifts, Surrey
- November 24, 2016: Cannabis Culture, Port Coquitlam
- January 17, 2017: Green Tree, Langford
- January 25, 2017: Remedy Medicinals, Victoria
- February 6, 2017: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Prince George
- February 13, 2017: Leaf Labs, Nanaimo
- February 15, 2017: Green Tree, Langford (second time in less than one month)
- February 22, 2017: Green Tree, Langford (third time in five weeks)
- March 1, 2017: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Richmond
- March 3, 2017: Leaf Comassion, Chemainus
- March 3, 2017: Green Aura, Chemainus
- March 3, 2017: Green Tree, Nanaimo
- March 9, 2017: Cannabis Culture Headquarters, Vancouver
- March 9, 2017: Nature Source, Nanaimo
- March 15, 2017: WeeMedical Wellness Centre, Parksville