Windsor

'Irresponsible behaviour' by Windsor police leads to eviction of CBD Emporium

The owner of CBD Emporium in downtown Windsor claims he was evicted because Windsor police passed along "untrue" statements to his landlord, and acted in a "cavalier" manner.

George Metropoulos said he was selling CBD products with no THC

George Metropoulos said he was evicted May 8 after Windsor police sent a letter to his landlord. (Jason Viau/CBC)

The owner of CBD Emporium in downtown Windsor claims he was evicted because Windsor police passed along "untrue" statements to his landlord, and acted in a "cavalier" manner.

George Metropoulos has been operating on Pelissier Street for nearly a year, selling Cannabidiol (CBD) products. That's until May 8, when he was evicted.

"It makes me very sad, to be honest with you," said Metropoulos. "I put my heart and soul into this place, all the money I had. To get it taken away, it kills you."

Metropoulos said he was selling CBD products derived from bare mature stalks. And according to Health Canada, that is one of the only cannabis or hemp derived products permitted to be included in a non-cannabis product. Those sources, including hemp hearts or hemp seed oil, contain very little THC and "negligible amounts of CBD."

"Private companies do not require an authorization to sell products with these ingredients," Health Canada said in an email.

However, Windsor police wasn't under the same impression.

If I'm illegally doing something, you charge me with it, you confiscate my products ...- George Metropoulos, owned CBD Emporium

In a letter obtained by CBC News from the Windsor Police Service to Metropoulos' landlord dated April 24, it says "CBD Emporium is currently selling cannabis related products."

However, Metropoulos said he never received any warnings, fines or charges after police searched his business, and left.

The owner of the CBD Emporium said everything he was selling was legal under provincial and federal law. (George Metropoulos)

"Don't just make accusations and don't charge me. There's due process in Canada," said Metropoulos. "If I'm illegally doing something, you charge me with it, you confiscate my products, you put me through the court system. You don't go behind my back to a landlord with false accusations."

Police unwilling to speak about investigation

The Windsor Police Service isn't able "to speak to any specific investigation" and couldn't explain why Metropoulos wasn't charged, despite a letter sent to his landlord saying he was selling cannabis products.

"I think it's controversial as hell, I mean you're getting me to do their dirty work."​​- Rhys Trenhaile, landlord

Sgt. Steve Betteridge, public information officer, said charges are not always laid and there's some legislation that gives police the option to lay charges.

"Our officers utilize discretion and good judgment to best serve our community," said Betteridge. "The involved landlord may also be advised of the current laws. In such cases, the goal again is education, and the stopping of the continuation of the offence."

Lawyer asking police to withdraw letter

In a letter sent to Windsor police chief Al Frederick, Metropoulos' lawyer is demanding the letter that was sent to his landlord be withdrawn.

An officer "delivered a letter the owner of the property containing a number of untrue statements about the business and threatening serious fines," said lawyer Daniel Kayfetz. "All inventory is in compliance with the laws of Canada."

Kayfetz described the behaviour of police in this case as "cavalier and irresponsible."

The owner of the CBD Emporium was evicted May 8, after being open for nearly one year. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Metropoulos' landlord Rhys Trenhaile said he looked at the law and consulted 'many' organizations before moving forward with the eviction. It was his understanding that police were trying to avoid charging him.

"I think it's controversial as hell, I mean you're getting me to do their dirty work," said Trenhaile. "The decision didn't come lightly but we felt that the law was pretty clear since the new laws came into effect in October."

Since Metropoulos believes he has done nothing wrong, he's considering suing the Windsor Police Service for how it handled the investigation.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of the story said Health Canada permits the sale of industrial hemp products without license or authorization. However, Health Canada has since clarified that CBD products are subject to the same rules as cannabis, and that people aren't allowed to sell hemp products with CBD even with an industrial hemp license. The story has been updated to reflect that change.
    May 23, 2019 7:16 PM ET
  • A previous version of the story said Health Canada said CBD products are subject to the same rules that apply to cannabis. However, in a subsequent email Health Canada outlined there are a few cannabis or hemp-derived ingredients that can be used in non-cannabis products, such as creams and food products, that don't require authorization to sell.
    May 24, 2019 6:37 PM ET

About the Author

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca