Police Cracking Down on Marijuana Dispensaries Paula duhatscheck, stephanie gordon, shannon gee

London Police Service has charged eight people and seized nearly $170,000 worth of controlled substances after executing search warrants at five marijuana dispensaries in the city.

The individuals were both male and female and ranged in age from 23 to 55 years old. They were charged with 24 counts of possession and trafficking.

Austin Clark, an employee at Shop 420, a paraphernalia store next to one of the dispensaries, witnessed the police search yesterday afternoon. “They brought a rental truck and parked right out front, and they took pretty much everything: furniture, took their 'Open' sign. [...] The cops were here pretty much all day until the evening.”

None of the dispensaries searched were in business today. It’s undetermined whether they will return to business in the following days.

Clark had seen people come into the store and wonder why the dispensary next door was closed. “A million people pull their cars up and pull away. There’s a lot of people that need their medication that can’t get it,” said Clark.

With the dispensaries closed, access to medicinal marijuana becomes limited. Clark says that some people will drive to dispensaries in Toronto, turn to a local drug dealer, or simply go without.

In a morning news conference, the police said that the investigations were brought on by community complaints. While Sandasha Bough, a spokesperson for the London Police Service, was unable to share details on what these concerns were, she emphasized that the investigation's primary concern is to ensure public safety.

“You don’t know what you’re consuming and it’s potentially very unsafe." - Constable Bough

One possible health concern could be pesticides. Constable Bough cited a recent recall from two licensed medical marijuana producers whose products contained unauthorized pesticides.

In response to these incidents, Health Canada has promised to begin randomly testing products from licensed producers to make sure that they’re only using approved pesticides during production.

In an e-mail statement, Health Canada said, "[Our] position on the risks of obtaining cannabis from dispensaries has been consistent: these facilities are unlicensed by the federal government, illegally supplied, and sell product that may be contaminated or otherwise unsafe."

Back at Shop 420, Clark says that, ideally, no pesticides should be used at all. He thinks that small producers might in fact produce better quality products than their larger, licensed counterparts.

“It’s almost like craft beer—the quality’s probably increased over what a mass production product might be,” he said.

Clark also emphasized the health costs that people might experience if they need medical marijuana to get through the day, and their normal dispensary is shut down by police.

“People who have Parkinson's or tremors or stuff like that, they can’t function without it, they’ll have severe shaking and stuff like that so it’s really important for them to use it.”

Aside from public safety, Constable Bough explained that unlicensed dispensaries undermine the work done by clinics that are licensed by Health Canada.

The searched dispensaries were located at:

  • Tasty Budd's, 96 Wharncliffe Road South
  • Chronic Hub Social Club, 119 Dundas Street
  • Healing Health Compassion, 490 Wonderland Road South
  • Healing Health Compassion, 1472 Dundas Street
  • Herbal Alternatives, 737 Hamilton Road

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