WATCH: The first day of legalized recreational cannabis was a day to celebrate for many across the country. But there was a very different mood in Port Alberni. Just two of their six cannabis dispensaries remained open Wednesday and both were raided by police. They were the only raids in Canada. Kendall Hanson reports.
The shelves at Port Alberni’s Cannabis club are empty today.
On Wednesday, the day recreation cannabis became legal in Canada, RCMP officers cleared out any visible cannabis products on the club’s shelves.
“When they first showed up I had a fellow sit with me on the picnic bench for almost the full half an hour. He was with me answering questions telling me this is being done Canada wide,” said Christine Jarvis, the general manager of the Compassion Club.
“Come to find out this morning it’s not being done Canada wide, it’s just being done here.”
Leaf Compassion was also raided. Police confiscated thousands of dollars of cannabis products.
Managers at both stores were fined $575.
“Why are we getting bugged and no one else?” asked Eric Veseranta, manager of Leaf Compassion’s Port Alberni store. “Like all our other stores were open. They had line-ups out the door.”
Port Alberni’s four other dispensaries are closed. They are in the process of getting B.C. government retail licenses.
The provincial government said it didn’t order the police to act but added that while the Community Safety Unit is the enforcement agency for the province for dispensaries, local police can do their own enforcement.
In a statement, Port Alberni RCMP said it was simply checking for compliance with the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and the detachment’s enforcement priorities are set in consultation with local government’s partners and citizens in the community.”
“There’s no middle ground,” said Jarvis. “They’re wanting us to close four to five months until we’re approved. We’ll go bankrupt by then. We’ve got the clientele. We’ve got the base. We’ve got wonderful customers that are scared about their product that they can’t get anymore.”
Managers of both shops say they will fight the fines and will remain open.