Landlord shuts Halifax marijuana shop, but owner vows to reopen

A Halifax marijuana shop has been locked out by its landlord, but owner Shirley Martineau vows to reopen Auntie's Health and Wellness in a new location.

'I didn't expect it to go this wild,' says Shirley Martineau as Auntie's Health and Wellness locked out

Shirley Martineau, owner of Auntie's Health and Wellness, wants to reopen in a new location. (Mike Hall/Word of Mouth Media)

A Halifax marijuana shop has been locked out by its landlord, but owner Shirley Martineau vows to reopen Auntie's Health and Wellness in a new location. 

"I'm shocked," Martineau said Friday when CBC News told her the store was shuttered. "They accepted the rent."

Martineau said she hasn't been back to the downtown shop, which openly sold marijuana to anyone over the age of 19, since she was arrested following a police raid late last month.

A notice posted to the front door Friday on behalf of landlord NewGen Halifax Properties GP said Auntie's staff are barred from entering the storefront, can't keep anything inside and face arrest if they violate the ban.

"I didn't expect it to go this wild," said Martineau.

"All I attempted to do was help patients that needed my help without a licence."

It is illegal to possess or sell pot in Canada and federal regulations prohibit the sale of medical marijuana through a retail storefront.

Martineau said she decided to sell marijuana when people who couldn't get a medical prescription came to her. It was her plan to use profits from recreational users to offer products to medicinal users for free. 

She said Auntie's Health and Wellness, which registered as a business with the province in June, will set up shop somewhere new.

"I've got people to help. I don't know where, or how," she said, adding that her phone and computer have been seized by police. 

Police had said they wouldn't investigate Martineau's business unless they received a complaint.

Uneven playing field for other businesses

Paul MacKinnon, executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, said he's heard from members concerned about the shop.

He said business owners complained the shop was operating without a business occupancy permit and that it brought a police raid to the street.

"If there are businesses that operate downtown in a legal manner, how can one operate in what doesn't seem to be a legal manner?" said MacKinnon. 

The police raid, he said, "is just not good for the overall business environment."

Paul MacKinnon said other businesses felt Auntie's shouldn't operate without a permit. (CBC)

MacKinnon said no one seemed to mind that Martineau was selling marijuana, but thought businesses should wait until the laws actually change before selling what is still an illegal product.

"Obviously any landlord would have concerns if there were arrests being made with one of their tenants."

MacKinnon expects to see retail options for marijuana if the federal government follows through with plans to legalize it, but no one knows if it will be through independent shops, through the post, or through government-controlled facilities like liquor commissions.