Tag Archives: Raids

‘Budtender’ says marijuana dispensary bosses left him high and dry after raid

By: Jacquie Miller

A “budtender” who was arrested in a raid on an Ottawa marijuana dispensary says he feels betrayed by his former employer, who has refused to help him with legal bills.

Shawn McAlesse says he believed he was working in a “legal grey zone” and helping people when he accepted a job with a B.C.-based dispensary chain in Ottawa last summer. 

And while McAlesse says he’s glad that charges have been thrown out against 151 Toronto budtenders who were arrested at dispensary raids in that city, he has no indication the same thing will happen in Ottawa. No charges have been withdrawn against the 22 dispensary employees arrested in 12 raids in this city. 

McAlesse was behind the counter when police raided the Green Tree Medical Dispensary on Montreal Road last November. He faces 11 counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, one count of possessing the proceeds of crime, and one count of simple possession because he had a joint in his pocket.  

Shortly after his arrest, McAlesse says his Ottawa manager delivered the bad news: The bosses in Vancouver would not pay his legal bills and did not want any further contact with him. Green Tree was one of seven related stores, the others operating under the names WeeMedical Dispensary Society and CannaGreen. All of them were raided; four have since re-opened. 

McAlesse said he was given the impression by managers that he didn’t need to worry about being arrested, but that if it happened the company “would have a lawyer standing by us.” 

He said managers stressed how the dispensaries were helping medical marijuana patients, an ideal that McAlesse embraced, because he has benefited himself.  

“They took advantage of the fact a lot of us (budtenders) are for medical marijuana. They (said they) shared those ideals, then they threw us to the wolves when we got arrested. 

“It angers me. I feel they manipulated me, they abused me, 100 per cent. There aren’t enough metaphors in the world to explain how I feel about those guys.” 

The nine employees arrested at the Green Tree-related stores face serious criminal charges, while the owners “rack up the cash,” McAlesse said. 

He worked at both a WeeMedical and a Green Tree store. He estimates each store took in $8,000 to $12,000 a day from sales of dried pot, candy, pop, cookies and oils, and they are open seven days a week.

“I’m sure they can afford lawyer fees.” 

His boss was Justin Liu, said McAlesse. Liu is one of the directors of the WeeMedical Dispensary Society, according to registration papers filed in British Columbia. The Citizen has been unable to interview Liu or anyone from Green Tree, WeeMedical or CannaGreen despite repeated efforts since the dispensaries first arrived in town last summer. 

Requests sent to the email addresses on the Green Tree and WeeMedical websites have not been returned. The Citizen reached Liu once, using a phone number that was briefly listed on the CannaGreen website, but he quickly ended the conversation, saying he was about to hop on a plane and would call back, which he did not. The voice mailbox for that number is now full. 

At the WeeMedical headquarters in Vancouver, in three calls over the past week, the people answering the phone said they would try to find a company spokesperson, but no one phoned back. They refused to provide contact information for Liu. 

McAlesse said that because the stores operated openly he didn’t think he was doing anything illegal. “A storefront operation, with multiple locations across the city, seems so above-board – even though it’s a grey area.” 

McAlesse is proud of his work at the dispensaries, saying they provide a valuable service. He says he helped many people, including giving advice on how to sign up to buy medical marijuana legally.  

Medical marijuana is legal if bought from a Health Canada-licensed grower. But some people can’t find a doctor to prescribe marijuana or can’t afford the fees charged by clinics who employ cannabis-friendly doctors, he said. Others want edible products such as cookies and brownies that legal suppliers aren’t allowed to sell. 

McAlesse said his managers told him to ask customers to fill out a form listing their medical conditions, and advise them that a “company doctor” would contact them later. He said he had no concerns about the safety or quality of the cannabis products, because it was better than what can be brought on the street. Health Canada has warned that products at dispensaries are unregulated and may be unsafe. 

McAlesse said the owner of a vapour lounge in Saskatoon, a fellow cannabis community activist, has agreed to help with his legal fees, which he said are about $5,000 just for the lawyer retainer. He has also set up a crowd-funding page. 

As he waits for his next court date on April 5, McAlesse said he rarely leaves home. “I’m quite an anxiety-ridden mess.” He held previous jobs at a plumbing store and a Tim Hortons, but it will be hard to find work now. “It’s a little hard to find a job when you’re a suggested drug dealer.” 

Original article can be found here

Canada’s Justice System Is Crumbling As Cannabis Raids Continue


Canada’s justice system is in the midst of a major crisis. Many hundreds of important cases across Canada have been dropped due to a lack of court resources. These include some very serious crimes. 

In Ontario, 6,500 cases in provincial court could soon be dropped due to delays, including 38 for homicide or attempted murder. In one terrible case last year, a man named Kenneth Williamson was convicted of raping a minor over 100 times, but because of lengthy delays in taking his case to trial, his conviction was overturned. 

Late last year, two men had charges of first degree murder dropped because of long delays in getting to trial. In unrelated cases, alleged killers Lance Regan and Adam Picard both walked free from murder charges. Regan was accused of murdering a fellow inmate, while Picard was accused of shooting a man to death during a robbery. 

Cannabis cases clogging courts 

Considering this justice system crisis, cannabis should obviously be the lowest priority for police and the courts, but it’s not. Not only are police launching more raids against dispensaries than ever before, but ridiculous charges for small-scale “cannabis crimes” are continuing from coast to coast. 

Every single one of these cannabis raids is an assault on our justice system.

In Alberta alone, over 200 serious criminal charges have been dropped this year due to clogged courts. Yet I’ve got a two-day hearing in Calgary May 9 and 10, over giving away low-THC cannabis seeds! My trial will begin next year. Seeds for high-potency cannabis plants are openly sold in every Canadian city, including over a dozen outlets in Calgary, but prosecutors are willing to waste precious court resources on me for a free seed giveaway? How absurd. 

The recent raids on Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton are the result of a lengthy investigation, and have taken months of police work to pursue. Hundreds of hours of precious court time will now be spent on processing and hearing these charges over the coming months and years, along with charges from many dozens of other pointless dispensary cases in other cities. 

Every single one of these cannabis raids is an assault on our justice system. Every dollar spent charging, processing and trying people for cannabis is a dollar taken away from the enforcement of serious laws against violent criminals. 

  Employee Alyssa Vail sits in front of a police vehicle during a police raid of the Cannabis Culture shop in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 9, 2017. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP) 

Mandatory minimums and more police 
Back in 2013, the National Post was reporting on the clogged-courts problem, noting that “the recent introduction of mandatory minimum sentences” was also a big part of the problem, as they delay trials and “give greater incentive for charges to be more vigorously and aggressively fought.” Yet Trudeau hasn’t done anything to get rid of Harper’s vicious mandatory minimums, even though his party voted against them when Harper was passing the legislation. What’s he waiting for? 

Meanwhile Bill Blair, Trudeau’s spokesperson on cannabis, is telling us that the biggest impact of legalization will be that “we’re going to have to ask more of the police.” How can this be? Under what rational form of legalization will we need even more police to arrest more people? If cannabis legalization doesn’t mean a massive reduction in police time spent on cannabis, then it’s not really legal at all. 

Alleged killers are walking away without trial while dispensary raids are accelerating and minor cannabis cases are getting high priority. Now Trudeau’s spokesperson is saying we’ll need more cops after legalization than ever before! This is not what Canadians voted for, and after having had a year in office to fix these problems, Justin Trudeau should be ashamed of himself. 

Original article can be found here

Canna-Green dispensary in Kingston raided overnight

Little information has been released about a reported raid that happened here at the Canna-Green Store on Princess Street. As you can see behind me all signage has been removed and the store is pretty much cleaned out

According to witnesses – several Kingston Police Units including the K-9 Unit raided the store around 10 last night.It’s believed there were at least 6 people inside the store when officers entered.

Sources tell CKWS – 4 of the employees are from Ottawa and others Kingston.

They also say 3 to 5 pounds of marijuana was confiscated along with scales and other drug paraphernalia.

Earlier this week CKWS featured Canna-Green in a story about its opening on Monday.

Staff told us they specialize in selling medical marijuana in various forms to people 19 years of age and older.

Kingston police was asked to comment on the store and they told CKWS there’s a difference between dispensaries and cannabis specialized clinics and that they take the matter very seriously, adding marijuana dispensaries are illegal.”

Original article can be found here

Leaf Compassion worker responds to her arrest by RCMP

 Vancouver Island resident Jenelle Uhler had her first — and hopefully last — taste of prison last week. She’s not too happy about it. 

Uhler was one of several otherwise law-abiding Canadian citizens who were swept in a recent crackdown by North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP that saw three medical marijuana dispensaries raided. 

The one she was busted at, Leaf Compassion, re-opened again on Sunday, and the young mother of two is abiding by her release conditions by not entering the premises. 

Instead, she is protesting outside to highlight the absurdity of the situation. 

Uhler also turned to Facebook to vent after her release in a widely shared post. 

Here’s what happened in her own words:

“I have thought all night about making a public post regarding everything that happened yesterday and well into this morning, and have come to the conclusion that I would like to let people know what happened. Yesterday at approximately 10:35am the dispensary that I work at got raided, as well as others in the district of North Cowichan. 

This consisted of arrests of all people working, myself included, as well as some of my closest friends, and the confiscation of all products on the premises. This led to a 14-hour detainment in the Duncan RCMP detachment, where we sat in a freezing cold cell, with two cameras pointed directly at the one shared toilet, with no option to let our families know where we were. 

Instead we were told “it’s all over Facebook and the news, your husbands know where you are, I’m sure.” I am now facing charges, and have a list of compliances I must meet, including the promise to appear in court, a no contact order with my friends/co-workers, and in my opinion, second family. As well as, I am not allowed to be on the premises of Leaf Compassion Chemainus, and an order prohibiting the use of cannabis products.

 Ironically, I attended a Chemainus public and city council meeting the Monday before, where I listened to people in the community talk about all of the issues they are facing with robberies at an all time high. One business owner’s story was hard to even believe, when he said he called the RCMP after two people stole a bunch of his things from his store, and after calling police and leaving a message, he didn’t even get a response for 2 FULL DAYS! People are having their houses broken in to and police are taking over two hours to attend the scene. 

This is in no way meant to be disrespectful to the RCMP. I have always had a strong belief that our police officers have the hardest job in the world, as well as an incredibly thankless one, and I respect their courage immensely. 

All this being said, the faith I have in our justice system, and government is at an all time low. Why in God’s name are we allowing our tax dollars to go towards this. There is real crime happening. 

Cannabis is a plant. It has been used for its healing properties ever since we can begin to date the existence of man. 70% of the people that came into our dispensary were seniors. I have had every story imaginable told to me from the people who have come to me for help. 

I have literally watched skin cancer disappear from a woman’s face after applying the cannabis oils topically, without the high associated with smoking the flower. I have had grown men cry to me, thanking me for “giving them their mom back” after she had such bad tremors and nervous twitches, associated with dementia. I have had the sweetest old couple who both suffered from such bad chronic pain, with no relief from any doctors prescriptions, come to me and say they were ready to commit suicide together because they couldn’t handle the pain anymore. This was their last hope. And guess what? It worked. They came back in, a couple weeks later, crying with tears while thanking me from the bottom of their heart. My own husband was getting booked in for knee replacement surgery and instead used a tincture, with not even enough thc to get a high, and he is pain free, with no surgery needed. 

Whether people use cannabis for pain, depression, insomnia, anxiety, cancer, MS, etc. Why should anyone have the right to tell you not to use a natural medicine to help yourself? Why in God’s name are we still fighting, in 2017, for the right to grow a certain plant that is used for the treatment of so many different ailments? Why am I treated and possibly charged like a criminal for this plant? Because let me tell you, I sure don’t feel like a criminal. I feel like a fucking rock star. And that’s what I am. I’m an amazing mother of two beautiful, intelligent, kind children. I come home every night and share a pot of tea with my husband, as we maintain our miniature farm. I myself am a kind, loving, smart, motivated woman who knows what is right and what is wrong and so far, have a clean criminal record. All of you other rock stars out there, keep up the fight! Our freedom is on the line. This movement is too important to give up. I am in no way saying I am taking my conditions lightly, because I am not. But I believe in this, like I believed in our community support for Shawnigan Lake. And this will be okay. 

 It will be okay because people are brave enough to stand up to unjust laws. 

And that is exactly what this is, unjust.

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