Marijuana dispensary Mary Jane’s Glass and Gifts was open for business Tuesday but its shelves were empty after police raided the downtown business Monday night.
RCMP allege the store, whose franchise company is the Canadian medical marijuana company Weeds GG, was operating an illegal marijuana storefront business.
Insp. Jeff Pelley said officers executed a search warrant in the 100 block of Oliver Street April 3 and gathered evidence of possible offences under the criminal code and Controlled Drug and Substance Act.
“Drug trafficking is, and will remain a priority for our detachment and officers to proactively enforce these types of offences,” Pelley said in a news release issued late Monday night. “We take this very seriously and will continue to seek evidence to pursue charges.”
Store manager Mark Cowan was on hand Tuesday behind the empty counters to break the news to the stream of customers looking for products throughout the day, and said he was shocked by the RCMP’s actions.
“We don’t understand it,” Cowan said Tuesday. “Canada has a medical marijuana access program and we fall under that legal framework.”
The store has been operating seven days a week for the past two months at its Williams Lake location. Monday night police seized all marijuana flower, extract oil and baked goods from the business and are recommending charges of trafficking against Cowan and another employee.
Cowan said their product is grown legally under Canadian guidelines and their customers range from professionals, to university students, to street people, “little old ladies” and everyone in between.
“Every walk of life is pouring through my doors,” Cowan said. “And they are all very supportive. I even received an application for employment today.”
Cowan said he also provides much needed cannabis oil for cancer patients.
“That’s what really hurts. It’s the old timers with cancer who are being deprived of their medicine, which is really sad.”
Cowan said he anticipates refilling his shelves “very soon,” and in the meantime customers can e-mail their picture identification to the company website and receive the products through Canada Post.
“The plan is to keep running. Like I said, we don’t understand why they did this. It’s very odd.”
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said he questioned the validity of Mary Jane’s Glass and Gifts since the City first received an application from the company for a retail business licence
However, Cobb also pointed out municipalities are basically sitting in limbo as the laws surrounding the sale of marijuana are expected to change.
“You wonder if you should be turning a blind eye, but we just can’t,” Cobb said in general of marijuana dispensaries. “I wish the federal government would get off their butt and make up their minds on this. They need to get on with it and do what needs to be done.”
In the meantime, the sale of medical, or any other marijuana, is illegal, he said.
“We don’t have the ability to license them, that’s the stupid part,” he said of business owners who may want to operate legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries. “It’s illegal to sell it, but it’s legal to grow it.”
In his press release, Insp. Pelley also acknowledged the challenges surrounding the policing of marijuana.
“We recognize the current complexities surrounding the potential for future legislative changes, however, the RCMP is tasked with enforcing the laws of Canada as they exist today,” Pelley said.