BRITISH COLUMBIA

Federal Medical Marijuana Raids Not Part Of Vancouver Police Plans

09/11/2015 04:24 EDT | Updated 09/11/2016 05:12 EDT
Steve Cicero via Getty Images
Hands pruning marijuana crop.
Vancouver police say they are not planning any raids on local pot dispensaries after Health Canada reportedly sent out letters warning operators they have two weeks to shut down or face an RCMP crackdown.

"Our position on the marijuana stores has not changed," said a statement issued by Const. Brian Montague on Friday morning.

"We have a great relationship with the RCMP and work together often to tackle regional issues," he said.

"The RCMP have the authority to enforce the Criminal Code anywhere in Canada, but I doubt they have the desire to spend time, money, and reallocate resources to a city policed by the VPD."

On Wednesday, Health Canada sent out letters to 13 illegal marijuana dispensaries and compassion clubs across the country, warning the RCMP could raid them if they do not stop advertising and selling marijuana immediately, even those in cities where local police have tolerated them.

The letters come after Vancouver City Council approved new regulations to license medical marijuana dispensaries. At the time federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the operations remained illegal and federal government remained committed to shutting them down.

Puzzling demands

One the operators who received the letter by email on Wednesday was Jamie Shaw with the B.C. Compassion Club in Vancouver.

Shaw says she was puzzled by the message because it included a demand that the society stop advertising, which she said it does not do.

"They're asking us to stop the advertising, whatever it is they're talking about. But also to stop all cannabis sales," said Shaw.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who worked on the landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling on cannabis extracts, calls the move unprecedented and inappropriate.

"I think it opens a giant can of worms, it's really doing an end-run around the elected officials in Vancouver as well as the Vancouver Police Department."

Police in Vancouver have raided and shut down some marijuana dispensaries suspected of selling pot to minors or having links to organized crime in recent months.

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