New Brunswick

Will they reopen? Saint John police return keys to 6 raided pot shop owners

Saint John police have returned the keys to the owners of six medicinal marijuana dispensaries raided on Tuesday, but it's unclear if or when they will reopen.

No details on seizures that led to 12 people being charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking

HBB Medical's locations were among several locations targeted by police in two separate raids in 2017. (CBC)

Saint John police have returned the keys to the owners of six medicinal marijuana dispensaries raided on Tuesday.

It's unclear if or when the businesses will reopen.

Twelve people — owners and employees — were arrested and are facing charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking because police say they they are unlicensed to sell.

Details about the size and value of the seizures have not yet been released.

Officers are still "weighing and itemizing," and compiling lists to file with the courts, Saint John Police Force Sgt. Charles Breen told CBC News.

It could be another couple of days before he has a final tally, he said.

Police did not issue any warnings about reopening when the keys were returned, according to Breen.

Sorry for the inconvenience.- HBB Medical Inc. Facebook post

Breen did advise through the media on Tuesday, however, that if the dispensaries reopen, they "will be revisited again by our department."

HBB Medical Inc., one of the locations raided, posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon that all previously scheduled Skype appointments between their clients and their doctor would proceed on-site, at 199 Chesley Dr.

"Anyone that had their appointment for yesterday, please send a [private message] and we will get you rescheduled. Sorry for the inconvenience," the post states.

Owner Hank Merchant could not immediately be reached for comment.

Court dates may be after legalization

The 12 people charged have been released on promises to appear in court on May 2.

The federal Liberal Party has announced plans to legalize marijuana this spring.

Breen said police have "no control" over whether the accused will go through the court system before the anticipated legislation changes.

"We'll do our investigation, we will present the files to the Crown, the Crown will review them and make whatever decisions they will make as to what will happen with them," he said.

Sgt. Charles Breen said he expects it will take a couple of days for police to release details about the items seized during the raids. (CBC)
As it stands, the plant remains illegal under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Decisions on how or whether to enforce current pot laws have largely fallen to municipal policing agencies.

Chief John Bates said police could no longer "stand by" while the dispensaries operated "outside the law."

"To dispense medical marijuana, you have to be licensed by the federal government. These were unlicensed establishments," he had said.

"As the chief law enforcement officer for a community, you have to make a decision whether you're just going to turn a blind eye to scofflaws that are operating openly or brazenly, or if you're going to make a stand and enforce the laws of the land."

Police also executed search warrants at:

  • Medicinal Grounds, 104 Prince William St.
  • Medicinal Grounds, 505 Rothesay Ave.
  • BCW, 8 Simpson Dr.
  • King Canna, 76 Germain St.
  • HBB Medical Inc., 1714 Rothesay Rd.

The raids stemmed from an investigation by the Saint John Police Force integrated street crime unit, which consists of officers from the Saint John Police Force, Kennebecasis Regional Police Service and the RCMP.

The street crime unit was assisted during the raids by members of the RCMP southern district street crime unit and uniform patrol officers of the Saint John Police Force.