Ten people have been arrested and at least nine have been charged after four homes and five Tasty Budds marijuana dispensaries in the province were raided by Nova Scotia RCMP. Both the president and CEO of the dispensaries are among those charged.
Police say the investigation was led by Halifax District RCMP’s Street Crime Enforcement Unit (SCEU) with involvement from Antigonish and Windsor RCMP’s own SCEUs.
As a result, nine search warrants were executed Thursday at four homes and five marijuana storefronts throughout the province.
Homes on Gammon Crescent in Cole Harbour, Memorial Drive in Westphal, Frederick Avenue in Halifax and John Gorham Lane in Bedford were searched.
RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke told reporters the five marijuana storefronts were Tasty Budds locations. They were found on Cole Harbour Road in Cole Harbour, Cobequid Road in Lower Sackville, Agricola Street in Halifax, Old Hwy 104 in Antigonish and Gerrish Street in Windsor.
According to the RCMP, the marijuana storefronts were being used as a way to commit various criminal activities including the trafficking of cocaine and marijuana, selling drugs knowing they would be re-sold for criminal profit, and selling marijuana in amounts well over what is prescribed. Other activities also allegedly took place, such as selling marijuana without knowledge of what it may contain — meaning there were no measures to prevent drugs from potentially being laced with dangerous chemicals — and generating revenue to purchase the proceeds of crime.
“These individuals operating these storefronts, they’re misleading the public, by posing as if they’re providing a professional service and a professional product,” Clarke said. “When in fact they’re committing crimes and they’re benefitting from those proceeds of those crimes.”
During searches, RCMP say a loaded handgun, a shot gun, significant quantities of marijuana, cannabidiol (often known as cannabis oil), cannabis edibles, chemically extracted cannabis resin (shatter and hash), cocaine, and large amounts of cash and drug paraphernalia were seized. Three ATMs and storefront signage were also seized by police.
Tasty Budds owner and president Malachy Nathaniel McMeeken, 35, of Cole Harbour is facing numerous charges including trafficking of a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana, cannabis resin and cannabidiol. He also has been charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, careless storage of a firearm and possession of property obtained by proceeds of crime.
WATCH: A dispensary for people who have medical marijuana prescriptions has opened in Cole Harbour. The Halifax Regional Municipality can’t issue permits for something that isn’t legal yet and the RCMP still enforces laws, but the owner says it’s worth the risk. Steve Silva reports.
Tasty Budds CEO Norman Arthur Lawrence, 45, of Westphal is facing charges of trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana, cannabis resin and cannabidiol. He also faces possession of property obtained by proceeds of crime.
Jarrett Randall Shrum, 31, of Bedford faces 17 charges — the most laid in the investigation — including trafficking of cocaine, and trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana, cannabis resin and cannabidiol. He also has been charged with six weapons-related charges, operation of a motor vehicle while disqualified, breach of probation, and possession of property obtained by proceeds of crime.
The other six people face numerous charges, with several facing trafficking of controlled substance charges in marijuana, cannabis resin, and cannabidiol and possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana, cannabis resin and cannabidiol, as well as possession of property obtained by the proceeds of crime.
A full list of charges has been provided by the RCMP on their website.
Shrum was remanded and will appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Friday.
McMeekin, Lawrence, 42-year-old Josh Robert Byers of Halifax, 26-year-old Connor Brian Haryett of Dartmouth, and 29-year-old Brandon Richard Lively of Beaver Bank were all released following their arrests and are scheduled to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Oct. 25.
Justin Wade Wile, 31, of Windsor and 25-year-old Bryan Jacob Canavan of MacKay Settlement were also released and are set to appear in Windsor Provincial Court on Oct. 17.
Gillian Sarah Sampson was released and is set to appear in Antigonish Provincial Court on Oct. 25.
A 33-year-old Dartmouth man was arrested earlier Friday and charges are anticipated.
Police say their investigation is ongoing.