RCMP arrested one person at Sidney’s Dispensary by the Sea after serving a search warrant there Thursday, April 28.
The lawyer representing the Dispensary acknowledges the store does sell medicinal marijuana — and is therefore in contravention of current laws — but added those current laws have been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Kirk Tousaw, who represents marijuana dispensaries across the country, said should charges be filed by the Crown following the arrest of one employee, he would challenge it based on a lack of public interest in prosecution and likelihood of conviction. He said that stance has so far worked after four dispensaries in Nanaimo were raided by police in November, 2015.
Police searched the Dispensary by the Sea on Second Street in Sidney, which has been open for only a few months. According to the Sidney North Saanich RCMP, officers executed a warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and seized various items. Charges are pending against one person.
It is currently illegal for anyone to operate storefront pot shops. Health Canada states the only legal way for registered users of medicinal marijuana to receive it is to order it directly from a licenced producer and have it mailed directly to them.
Tousaw said with the federal government poised to make changes to Canada’s pot laws, the operators of dispensaries are operating in a legal grey area.
“The view is, and based on case law, Health Canada is obliged to provide reasonable access to cannabis,” he said. “Those dispensaries are at the heart of access to medicinal marijuana in this country.”
Tousaw added the Dispensary by the Sea served approximately 2,000 people in “the Sidney area.”
He added the Dispensary by the Sea required its clients to become members and they must have a diagnosis from a “medical practitioner” and must not engage in reselling of the product.
Owners of the Dispensary by the Sea had applied in January of this year to the Town of Sidney for a business license to sell medicinal marijuana. The Town stated at the time they would not grant the permit. However, a re-application for a permit under the health and wellness centre category was granted as it is a permitted use under current Town bylaws.
The Town added at the time that if the business was found to be selling marijuana, it would fall to the police to enforce current laws.