Ottawa police put illegal pot shops on notice following Friday raids

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau is hoping remaining marijuana dispensaries will 'close down on their own accord' after officers arrested nine people in raids at seven pot shops across the city.

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau hopes remaining illegal shops will 'close down on their own accords'

Ottawa police officers exit the Wee Medical Dispensary Society shop on Rideau Street during a raid on Nov. 4, 2016. (Judy Trinh/CBC)

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the remaining marijuana dispensaries are "on notice" after officers arrested nine people in raids at seven pot shops across the city.

"We're hoping that they close down on their own accord," he said Friday.

Police raided one shop on Thursday and six on Friday morning following a volume of complaints about the growing number of dispensaries across the city.
Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said Friday's raids make it clear police is responding to community concerns about the illegal marijuana shops. (CBC News)

The federal government has promised to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana by the spring of 2017 but possession, production and trafficking of marijuana remains illegal.

Bordeleau said police were given clear direction from Health Canada in August that these dispensaries were not legal distributors of marijuana, and from there, began investigations. He said police have been aware of community concerns but that investigations and actions take time.

"Today makes it clear that we are indeed responding," Bordeleau said.

He warned of further investigations into the remaining dispensaries in Ottawa.

On Friday morning, police raided six dispensaries: the Wee Medical Dispensary Society shops at 358 Rideau St. and 293 St Laurent Blvd., the Green Tree Medical Dispensary shops at 290 Montreal Rd., 256 Bank St. and 352 Preston St., and CannaGreen at 2288 St. Joseph Blvd.

On Wednesday, police joined a bailiff to help enforce the eviction of CannaGreen pot dispensary at 33 Roydon Pl. in Nepean. The storefront had been previously boarded up, after a truck crashed through it in October. Police then raided that location on Thursday.

Police said all seven dispensaries that were raided were connected.

Police also seized marijuana, hashish, hash oil, THC concentrate, known as "shatter," and various edibles, including cookies and other baked goods during the raids. Cash and documents were also seized, police said.

Staff-Sgt Rick Carey, of the drug unit, said in a news release that "extended" investigations led to the raids.

"The reality is that each of these warrants requires a great deal of time and resources. We will continue to investigate dispensaries as complaints come forward," Carey said.

Carey said the nine people arrested were all store employees at the various locations. He said police expect to charge them with possession for the purposes of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime.

Bordeleau said he believes the city could help by closing what he sees as a loophole in the business licensing application, which only companies to identify themselves as "medical dispensaries." 

"They don't ask the question, 'What are you dispensing?' So we feel the city could go one step further and ask the question, 'Are you dispensing marijuana?' And if you are dispensing marijuana, not issue them a business licence."