A Halifax marijuana dispensary employee is now facing drug trafficking charges, that were prompted by a police investigation into a robbery at the business.
The owner of Scotia Green Dispensary on Spring Garden Road, Carl Morgan, said the investigation into the robbery has taken a wrong turn.
“We are not the bad guys here,” Morgan said. “We are trying to help people. We just want to have a fair chance at business.”
Halifax Regional Police (HRP) said they responded to the robbery at Scotia Green Dispensary at 9:39 p.m. on Monday.
It’s alleged two masked men armed with a gun had stolen money and products from the shop. They’re also believed to have robbed customers.
As a result of the investigation, police say members of the Integrated General Investigation Section and Guns and Gangs Unit executed a search warrant at the dispensary on Tuesday evening.
A 33-year-old employee of the dispensary was arrested. He’s facing charges of trafficking controlled substances.
“Instead of investigating the real crime … what they do is just the easiest,” Morgan said. “The patients are really the ones who are getting hurt.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Supt. Jim Perrin said that during HRP’s investigation of the robbery, officers came across additional marijuana substances. That resulted in police laying the trafficking charges.
Perrin wasn’t able to confirm the exact substance at the time of the press conference but said that when someone is operating an illegal business, they can expect to receive charges.
“We haven’t put all of our resources in dispensaries, but we certainly know they are there. We’ve put the message out that what they are doing is illegal,” he said.
“If we do come across them by way of an investigation than the people working there or own there could be subject to criminal offences.”
The province has already declared that the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation will be the only authorized retailer of cannabis in the province when marijuana is legalized — meaning that private dispensaries will continue to be considered illegal.
Morgan said this was the second time one of his businesses has been robbed. The first time, he said, was another location in New Glasgow.
Cannabis dispensaries are sometimes targeted by thieves because employees are less likely to call the police, according to Morgan.
He added that between the latest robbery and the police seizure of products, Scotia Green Dispensary has lost $30,000 in cash and cannabis.
“We have nothing left,” Morgan said.
Perrin said that it’s possible charging dispensary owners or employees may discourage them from reporting crimes to police, but said it is the price of operating an illegal business.
“If somebody doesn’t want to call us when they are victims of a crime because they are actually committing a crime at the time, then we’ll have to leave it up to them to make an informed decision,” he said.
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Despite the setback, the store reopened Wednesday. However, the variety of cannabis that customers use to treat medical conditions was limited.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Monday’s robbery continues. Police said the suspects fled the area on foot and no one was injured during the incident.
With a file from The Canadian Press and Alexander Quon