NLC tells St. John's weed accessory store it can't use 'cannabis'
Dabber Hashery, liquor corporation clash over product description
The owner of a cannabis accessory store is looking for answers from the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, after two employees in what he described as "tactical vests" told him he was breaking the law.
Jon Keefe, owner of the Dabber Hashery on Duckworth Street in downtown St. John's, said NLC employees came to the store Wednesday and told Keefe he needed to "reread the legislation" on cannabis but left without issuing any penalties or confiscating any products.
"They told us we actually weren't allowed to speak the word 'cannabis' inside our shop or have the word 'cannabis' written down anywhere in our shop," said Keefe, stressing that the store does not sell cannabis.
The conflict comes down to a difference in interpretation of federal cannabis legislation. The law states cannabis promotion is legal "at the point of sale" and in places where minors are not allowed.
Other types of promotion, like testimonials or ads placed where young people can see them, are not allowed.
The product that must not be named?
"NLC's initial view is that The Dabber Hashery, or any other non-licensed establishment, is free to sell accessories, but usage of the term 'cannabis' is in conflict with the act," spokesperson Greg Gill said in an email.
"Simply removing references to 'cannabis' in these instances will ensure The Dabber Hashery is congruent with this section of the act," he wrote.
Keefe disputes the NLC's interpretation. He says no one under 19 is allowed in the store.
"I've gone through the legislation top to bottom probably 10 times by now. I'm not a legal scholar but I am an educated man, and there's nothing in there that I can see that says there's any restrictions on folks selling things called 'cannabis accessories' or using the word 'cannabis.'"
I don't want to say that there's any malice behind this, I've seen no indication of that. We're just confused, basically.- Jon Keefe, The Dabber Hashery
Keefe says he's been in touch with his lawyer, his MHA and his MP to try to get some clarity on the legislation. He points out there are other cannabis accessory stores in the province, but he doesn't know of any others being visited by the NLC.
"My hope is that this is just an innocent mistake," he said.
"I don't want to say that there's any malice behind this. I've seen no indication of that. We're just confused, basically."
That confusion has left Keefe fearful of a raid like the one at Cannabis Care, an unlicensed dispensary on Water Street.
"We're swimming in the dark here. We don't know what to expect," he said. "It's a pretty rotten place to be."
With files from The St. John's Morning Show