November 14, 2015 9:49 pm
Updated: November 19, 2015 12:20 pm

Nanaimo pot shops ordered by RCMP to stop selling marijuana products

ABOVE: Prime Minister Trudeau has made legalizing the sale of marijuana a mandate of his new government. While owners of marijuana dispensaries celebrate, several in Nanaimo say they're being unfairly targeted by RCMP given their businesses will soon be made legal. Kylie Stanton explains.


For the past seven months, more than 1,000 patients have traded in the pharmacy for a Nanaimo dispensary. Whether in capsules, topical form, or dried, the products at the cannabis dispensary are in high demand.

But according to the Nanaimo RCMP, they’re also against the law and today is the deadline for them to end their sales.

“[Last week] Cst. Rob Christensen came into our premises and handed us a letter,” said Brandy Cavanagh from Mid-Island Health and Wellness Association.

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The same letter was hand-delivered to all 10 pot dispensaries within the city limits, detailing how they must put an end to sales of marijuana and marijuana-related products.

The letter states: “You have seven calendar days to comply with this notice or you will be subject to police enforcement, including the arrest of all employees and patrons on site.”

“This is people in pain. This is people having seizures. This is people who have real needs. What’s going on?” asks Akil Pessoa from Phoenix Pain Management.

Nanaimo RCMP refused to comment on camera, but did release some written answers to our questions:

Q1:    Why are the police speaking with these businesses now?

A1:     [Our] actions are related to our ongoing commitment to public safety and community safety initiatives. It is important that our position be made very clear and therefore we have notified the businesses in person of the ramifications should illegal activity be detected.

Q2:    But the new government has indicated they plan on changing the marijuana laws?

A2:     We are enforcing the laws as they exist today. The RCMP enforces the laws of Canada. Cannabis/Marihuana is regulated as a controlled substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) which prohibits the importation, exportation, trafficking, cultivation/production, and possession of it or its derivatives.

Q3:    Why is the RCMP taking action in Nanaimo and not in Vancouver where Health Canada issued similar type warning letters?

A3:     We can’t speak to enforcement efforts/actions in another jurisdiction. The Nanaimo RCMP have a number of ongoing efforts as it relates to policing and public safety initiatives. We have determined that the businesses should be notified of our concerns and the ramifications.

Q4:    Why not just go in and shut them down?

A4:     The business have been notified of the concerns, the provisions of the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) and  Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), the CDSA federal statute and possible and that possible actions may be taken by Nanaimo RCMP in the future.

The mayor of Nanaimo is also supporting the move.

“They are reacting to the laws that exist today,” said Mayor Bill McKay.

But those laws won’t exist for long.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already issued a mandate to the justice minister to legalize and regulate marijuana in Canada.

“I really think it’s just a local police officer who’s really just taken it upon himself to enforce these laws until the very last minute,” said Dana Larson with Sensible BC. “Considering we’re about to legalize in Canada, we find what’s happening in Nanaimo very disturbing and it’s going to be a real waste of taxpayer dollars and police resources to start busting these medical marijuana dispensaries.”


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