Moncton pot dispensaries brace for RCMP deadline
Letters say dispensaries are operating illegally, and arrests of staff and customers are possible
A Moncton marijuana business says it will stop selling pot after a letter delivered by the RCMP threatened the arrest of employees and patrons of medical marijuana dispensaries.
A number of marijuana dispensaries in Greater Moncton are facing tough decisions after receiving the letter, delivered by the RCMP late last week, that says the businesses are operating illegally and outside Health Canada regulations for marijuana.
The letter gives the outlets 14 days to stop selling "marihuana and/or marihuana derivatives" and warns of possible criminal prosecutions and the arrest of employees and patrons who are found on site.
Pat Caissie, manager of Dr. Greenthumb Dispensary in Moncton, said the store will stay open after the RCMP's deadline, selling cannabis paraphernalia such as bongs and papers.
But Caissie will remove all marijuana.
He said he's not happy cutting his customers off.
"I got a lot of cancer patients," he said. "I have to give them an opportunity to buy, then give them a warning we're going to be stopping."
"The legalization is supposed to be happening in July, well from here until July, that's a long time."
Customers are patients
Caissie said he only sells to people with prescriptions, but Dr. Greenthumb is not registered with Health Canada.
At a news conference last month, Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said non-medicinal dispensaries are illegal and will remain illegal under the new system. She said public safety officials will be expected to enforce the law.
The New Brunswick government plans to enter the legal-cannabis retail market by having NB Liquor set up a network of tightly controlled, stand-alone stores starting next July.
But Caissie said he's hearing frustration from customers about the changes, and he plans to pass that information on to the RCMP if any officers come back after the deadline to check in.
Applied to Health Canada
Patrick Jeannot, owner of Mitsy Budds, does not intend to stop selling marijuana products, despite the notice of enforcement.
"We are not licensed [for sale] by Health Canada, but we are a registered company with the province," he said.
Myself, I got family to support, so once I'm done this I got no job.- Pat Caissie, Dr. Greenthumb manager
Jeannot claims to have applied to Health Canada for permission to sell cannabis and is waiting for a response to stay open.
Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh confirmed the RCMP hand-delivered the letters of enforcement to dispensaries around Moncton but more specific information won't be available until Tuesday, when officers involved with the case return to work after the long weekend.
Saint John police conducted raids in March on four companies running marijuana dispensaries, halting business about two months after the shops were raided a first time. In January, six dispensaries scattered across the city were raided, and 12 people were charged.
Caissie said he's worried he will be one of many people looking for work after the two-week deadline passes.
"Myself, I got family to support, so once I'm done this I got no job."