Tag Archives: London

Pot shops: Tasty Budd’s owner among those charged by London police in last week’s raids

   Mal McMeekin, Tasty Budd’s franchise founder (Free Press file photo)

The owners of three London pot shops are among eight people charged in a crackdown on marijuana dispensaries. 

But a critic said he doubts the charges announced Friday by London police will hold up in court with Canada set to legalize the drug. 

Five men and three women face a combined 24 counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking following police searches of five marijuana dispensaries across London on March 2. 

Those charged include Mal McMeekin, 34, the Tasty Budd’s franchise founder; Kara Barber, 30, owner of Healing Health; and Charles Colvin, 28, chief executive of the Chronic Hub. 

Police have issued an arrest warrant for McMeekin, a Halifax native who travelled to London in August to open the Wharncliffe Road dispensary. 

McMeekin, who couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, wasn’t charged when police previously searched Tasty Budd’s in the summer. 

Authorities across the country stepped up their battle against dispensaries this week. 

Former Londoner Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie, were released on bail Friday after they were arrested Wednesday at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. 

Police across the country launched a series of co-ordinated searches Thursday of marijuana dispensaries linked to the Vancouver-based marijuana advocates. 

Police seized $250,000 in cash in several currencies after searching seven Cannabis Culture stores and several homes. 

Officers seized more than 65 kilograms of marijuana, 2.4 kg of cannabis extract and other drug paraphernalia. 

Authorities searched Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Vancouver. By Friday, most of the shops had reopened. 

Emery, 59, faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery, 32, is charged with five similar counts. 

One leading lawyer for marijuana activists says the charges against people swept up in recent searches won’t stick in court. 

“They’ll most likely be dropped or stayed,” Vancouver-based lawyer Robert Laurie said. 

“If the court system is already overstrained . . . dealing with serious crimes, then I honestly think judges are going to be scratching their heads and saying, ‘Why is this in front of me?’ ” 

Dispensaries are illegal under a federal law that limits the sale of marijuana for medicinal use to a few dozen government-approved commercial producers. 

Hundreds of pot shops have sprouted in Canadian cities since the federal Liberals swept to power in 2015 with a vow to bring in legislation this spring to legalize recreational marijuana use and regulate its sale. 

Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now a Liberal MP, is the point man on the plan. 

Blair’s recent visit to London on Feb. 28 — just two days before the raids — prompted many to speculate that he delivered the Prime Minister’s message that municipalities should enforce the law when it comes to dispensaries to Chief John Pare. 

But police denied the crackdown had anything to do with Blair’s visit, saying the raids were a response to citizen complaints. 

So far, three of the raided London dispensaries have vowed to reopen. 

Dispensary client Cayla Cornell started a petition demanding city officials allow the shops to operate freely. 

Cornell, 26, said she’s already collected hundreds of signatures for the petition, which is available at the Chronic Hub on Dundas Street. 

The charged:

  • Perry Middaugh, 55, of Markstay
  • Emily Pavlech, 23, of London
  • Kara Barber, 30, of London
  • Fallon Altwasser, 26, of Kitchener
  • Mal McMeekin, 34, of no fixed address
  • Nathan Hall, 26, of London
  • Charles Colvin, 28, of London
  • Paisley Grey, 23, of London 

Original article can be found here

Several arrested in simultaneous raids at 5 illegal marijuana dispensaries

Several people were taken into custody on Thursday as London police executed five simultaneous search warrants at illegal marijuana dispensaries in the city. 

The raids at Tasty Budd’s, Chronic Hub Social Club, Alternative Health, and at two Healing Health locations over the noon hour came as part of an investigation police initiated several weeks ago following complaints and concerns from the community, police said. 

The number of people arrested has not been released, but charges are pending, said London Police Cst. Sandasha Bough. 

“It is an ongoing investigation – it’s something that our guns and drugs section have been working on for a while,” said Bough, speaking to reporters outside of Tasty Budd’s on Wharncliffe Road South, less than an hour after the raids occurred. 

The warrants, police say, were connected to the offence of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking. 

“At each location, (police) are arresting individuals who are working at these premises, and they’re executing their search warrants, so they will be seizing multiple items in relation to these offences,” Bough said. 

The busts come just days after Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and current parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, came to London to visit with police leadership and city officials to discuss a regulatory framework for legalizing marijuana in Canada. The Trudeau government has said it plans to table legislation this spring aimed at legalizing and regulating marijuana. 

The timing of the raids and Blair’s visit on Tuesday was “purely coincidental,” Bough said, adding that police have been working on the warrants for around two weeks. 

Tasty Budd’s, one of six locations across the country, was the scene of a police search warrant last August that resulted in charges against two men, aged 23 and 28, of trafficking a schedule II substance and possessing a schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking. The dispensary, which had opened less than a week before the bust, closed temporarily, but reopened soon afterwards. 

One of the other dispensaries targeted in Thursday’s raid, Chronic Hub Social Club, opened just last month in the downtown core – the first to open in the area. 

Asked whether police were planning to raid any other dispensaries, Bough said she couldn’t comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Under current Health Canada regulations, Ontarians can only purchase legal medical marijuana from 24 authorized and licensed producers in the province, with illegal dispensaries subject to law enforcement action. There are currently a total of 39 authorized medical marijuana suppliers across Canada. 

Regulations that came into effect on Aug. 24, 2016 allows Canadians who have been authorized by their health care practitioner to register to grow their own marijuana or designate someone to produce it for them. According to Health Canada, as of August 2016, some 28,000 Canadians are authorized to possess and licensed to produce marijuana for medical purposes under court injunctions. 

Bough said members of the London Police guns and drugs section and officials from the city’s bylaw office and the Middlesex-London Health Unit were assisting in the ongoing investigation. 

“If the health unit does attend any of these locations, it will be in regards to the items that are edible,” Bough said, adding that the illegal marijuana products supplied by the unauthorized dispensaries could be potentially dangerous and “not safe for human consumption.” 

Updates on the investigation will likely be released tomorrow, Bough said. 

Original article can be found here

London police raid five marijuana dispensaries

Raids were in response to community complaints, according to police

Police in London, Ont. raided five marijuana dispensaries Thursday afternoon. (Kerry McKee/CBC)

Police in London, Ont. have raided five marijuana dispensaries in response to community complaints.

Raids began at noon, according to police.

“The search warrants were in relation to possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking,” read a statement from the London Police Service.

The investigations began weeks ago, and searches at the sites are ongoing.

Marijuana dispenseries raided:

96 Wharncliffe Road South
119 Dundas Street
490 Wonderland Road South
737 Hamilton Road
1472 Dundas Street

Original article can be found here