It’s business as usual at Auntie’s Health and Wellness Centre on Barrington Street in downtown Halifax, despite the fact the store is openly breaking the law and selling marijuana.
“Auntie Shirley is here to help and people are really loving it,” Shirley Martineau, owner of Auntie’s Health and Wellness, said Tuesday.
Martineau has had more than 250 customers since she opened her doors in July.
Legally, only people with a prescription for medical marijuana are allowed to purchase it. But Martineau said she got tired of turning people away who were in need but didn’t have access to a doctor or a prescription.
Since Friday, she’s been selling marijuana products from her storefront to anyone over the age of 19.
“You know, I believe in four months it’s going to be legal anyways so I’m hoping to skirt by. I’m hoping that happens,” Martineau said.
Is it legal? Police say no
Halifax Regional Police say they are aware of some establishments, like Auntie’s Health and Wellness Centre, that are selling marijuana to those without prescriptions.
Const. Dianne Penfound said police will start investigating once a public complaint is launched. At this time, no complaint has been placed against Martineau’s business.
Penfound said they are monitoring the situation and, while the federal government is planning to legalize marijuana in the near future, right now it’s still against the law to sell or possess it without a prescription.
“There is change coming. It hasn’t come yet. So until such time, we adhere to the laws that are currently in place and we’ll, you know, go after people who are breaking those laws,” Penfound said.
City says business operating illegally
Tiffany Chase, spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Municipality, confirms that the city did receive a permit application from Auntie’s, but it was denied.
She also said the municipality will not issue a permit for a medical marijuana dispensary because it’s illegal.
Chase said Auntie’s Health and Wellness is now under investigation and that officials are awaiting legal advice to see how they should proceed.
“Every business in the municipality is required to have an occupancy permit in order to be operating legally. Right now, they do not have a permit in hand, so we would determine they would be operating illegally,” Chase said.
Marijuana helps cancer, chronic pain: Martineau
Martineau believes marijuana helps those suffering from cancer and chronic pain, so much so that she collects money to help those who can’t afford to purchase it themselves through a compassion fund set up in her store.
Although Martineau has not been criminally charged, every day she fears she will be arrested, however 66-year-old says she’s prepared to face the consequences to help people in need.
“I don’t want to go to jail,” Martineau said.
“I’m an older woman, you know? I have family and I’m a grandmother but I believe in this so much that I’m taking the chance and I’m hoping that people will understand and back me instead of putting me in jail.”