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ON:London's first 19-plus marijuana dispensary opens on Rich

by papapuff » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:39 pm

London Free Press



London's first 19-plus marijuana dispensary opens on Richmond Row


By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press
Thursday, September 14, 2017

The first new marijuana dispensary has opened in London since police launched a coordinated crackdown on the illegal businesses last spring.

And unlike the city’s other four pot shops, this one doesn’t require customers to have a valid prescription for medicinal marijuana.

The London Relief Centre quietly opened its doors in the heart of downtown, on Richmond Row, last week, just as the Ontario Liberals announced plans to open 40 government-run cannabis storefronts and an online service by the summer, when the federal government is expected to legalize recreational pot by July 1.

Despite the province’s vow to stamp out the remaining unsanctioned pot shops — more then $274 million has been pledged for enforcement — one cannabis industry watcher says the rogue dispensaries, like the ones in London, aren’t going anywhere.

“There’s still just under a year left until legalization (and) there’s likely a lot of money to be made in that window,” said Jenna Valleriani, a University of Toronto PhD candidate studying Canada’s marijuana market.

Critics have taken aim at the number of promised government-run dispensaries — there will be 150 stores operating by 2020, all of them overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario — saying there aren’t near enough to satisfy the surging demand for recreational weed.

“I think they’ll continue to open up even past the July deadline,” Valleriani said of the illegal pot shops.

While the so-called 19-plus business model is popular in Toronto and Vancouver, where dozens of dispensaries operate, it’s a first for London.

New clients at the London Relief Centre are required to show a piece of identification proving they’re 19 and fill out two-page form on laminated paper, providing basic information on past marijuana use and agreeing to not resell product or use it near the shop.

“There are maybe 10 different points that you have to check off and sign,” said one member, who didn’t want to be identified. “Then they erase it.”

Staff at the London Relief Centre declined to comment Thursday.

The dispensary is located in a ground-floor unit at 691 Richmond St. City tax records show the commercial building, valued at $1 million, is owned by a numbered Ontario company.

London police didn’t immediately respond to a Free Press inquiry about the dispensary.

Police last raided five dispensaries across London on March 2, seizing $170,000 worth of cannabis products and laying a two-dozen drug trafficking charges against eight people, all of them dispensary staff and owners.

With marijuana’s pending legaliztion, many have questioned whether pot charges laid in dispensary raids will hold up in court.

Dispensaries have become a divisive topic in communities, with some citizens demanding authorities shut them down, while others say the raids are a waste of police resources.

“There’s no real easy answer,” Valleriani said, pointing to Vancouver’s bid to regulate dispensaries by granting them business licences. “There’s still two-thirds of the shops in the city operating outside of municipal regulation. That also begs the question of whether or not they’re even regulatable.”

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

twitter.com/DaleatLFPress
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by papapuff » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:27 am

lfpress.com



London police raid Richmond Row marijuana dispensary

Free Press staff
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Five people have been arrested after a raid of an illegal marijuana dispensary in downtown London Wednesday morning.

London police say five people are under arrest after police searched a business at 691 Richmond Street. That’s the address of the London Relief Centre.

The dispensary quietly opened on Richmond Row earlier this month, just as the Ontario government rolled out plans to control the sale of pot when it’s legalized within the next year. Its opening was detailed in The Free Press days ago.

The operation is selling marijuana to anyone over 19, a move that blatantly flouts the law and poses a direct challenge to the Ontario government’s plans.

"Trafficking marijuana is still against the law and we will be enforcing those laws," Const. Sandasha Bough said shortly after the raid.

Nothing had been removed from the shop, but undercover officers were inside continuing the investigation, Bough said.

A London man who said he saw the raid from a nearby street said at least 20 police cars rolled up at the shop.

The so-called 19-plus business model is popular in Toronto and Vancouver, where dozens of dispensaries operate, but the London Relief Centre is the only local dispensary to openly sell pot to anyone presenting identification showing they’re at least 19.
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by papapuff » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:45 am

CBC.ca



5 people charged after raid on London marijuana dispensary

Thousands in drugs and cash seized during Richmond Row dispensary bust

CBC News Posted: Sep 21, 2017 1

Five people have been charged after police seized thousands of dollars in drugs and cash during a raid on a London downtown marijuana dispensary Wednesday.

Police executed a search warrant, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, at the London Relief Centre, located at 691 Richmond Street, south of Oxford Street.

Police seized $45 thousand in drugs and $15 thousand in cash.

The drugs seized included:

4211.5 grams of marijuana bud valued at $42,115

35 grams of hash oil valued at $1,750

40 grams of shatter valued at $4,000

a variety of THC infused products

Police also seized computer equipment and an automated bank machine.

Five people – all in their 20s – have been charged with multiple counts of possessing a Schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Three of the accused are from London. The two others are from the Toronto area.
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by papapuff » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:13 am

London Free Press



Complaints drive pot shop raids, London police claim


By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press
Sunday, September 24, 2017

A police raid on a new downtown London pot shop resulted from citizen complaints, not because the illegal business was openly selling cannabis to anyone older than 19, the city’s police chief says.

Police swooped in on the London Relief Centre on Richmond Street last Wednesday, less than two weeks after it opened in defiance of the law, charging five staffers and seizing cannabis and cash.

But unlike the spring crackdown on pot shops, when police raided five dispensaries across the city, last week’s clampdown only targeted the Richmond Row operation, leaving London’s four other dispensaries unscathed.

“How we’ve been handling the dispensaries, and we’ve been very open about it, is that (if) we receive complaints, we gather evidence, we take the appropriate action,” Chief John Pare said.

The London Relief Centre was the city’s first dispensary where anyone 19 or older could buy marijuana, regardless of whether they had a valid prescription, as required by the city’s other pot shops.

Cannabis crusader Jodie Emery, the wife of former Londoner and longtime pot activist Marc Emery, accused police of taking a “Russian roulette” approach.

“It’s harmful, it’s costly . . . and all Canadians are going to be paying for it, whether they like pot or not,” Emery said of the action against pot shops.

Police across Canada have launched 272 raids on dispensaries since Justin Trudeau became prime minister 22 months ago, according to website that tracks the incidents.

The London Relief Centre, located in a ground-floor unit at 691 Richmond St., remained closed during the weekend. Two flat screen televisions listing available strains of marijuana remained on, but the shelves were empty.

Last week’s raid came on the heels of the Ontario Liberals’ announcement to open 40 government-run cannabis stores and an online service by the summer, when Ottawa is expected to deliver on its plan to legalize recreational pot by July 1.

In a bid to stamp out unsanctioned pot shops, the province pledged more then $274 million for enforcement.

But critics have questioned whether the government-run system can handle the surging demand, pointing to supply problems already plaguing Health Canada-approved medicinal marijuana producers. The chronic shortages, along with other issues such as minimum order requirements, sent many medicinal patients to the dispensaries.

“If they have the choice, they’re going to choose dispensaries,” Emery said of marijuana users, both medical and recreational. “And that’s why the government is sending out men with guns to crack down on the competition in a strange, cartel-style monopolization move. It’s disgusting and harmful.”

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

twitter.com/DaleatLFPress

--- --- ---

By the numbers

7: London dispensaries raided since August, 2016

15: Staffers, operators facing charges

45: Combined charges laid

4: London dispensaries still operating
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by papapuff » Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:35 pm

London Free Press



London Relief Centre reopens less than one week after police raid

By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Less than one week after London police raided it, a downtown marijuana dispensary is back in business.

The London Relief Centre was serving customers again Tuesday, just six days after police swooped in on the Richmond Row pot shop, arresting five staffers and seizing nearly $50,000 worth of cannabis products and $15,000 cash.

A police spokesperson didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the store’s reopening, but Chief John Pare previously said last Wednesday’s raid on the dispensary — one of five operating in London — was prompted by citizen complaints, not because it was selling marijuana to anyone over the age of 19.

Located in a ground-floor unit at 691 Richmond St., the London Relief Centre is Southwestern Ontario’s only so-called 19-plus dispensary, where clients aren’t required to have a valid pot prescription, as required by the city’s other pot shops.

“Nothing has changed. It’s exactly the same,” a customer, who didn’t want to be identified, said Tuesday after visiting the dispensary.

Police forces across Canada have been engaged in a whack-a-mole-style battle with unsanctioned pot shops since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who made an election promise to legalize recreational pot, was elected 22 months ago.

Since then, police have launched a total of 227 raids on dispensaries, only to see many of the businesses reopen, according to a website that tracks the incidents.

In London, police launched a coordinated crackdown on five dispensaries on March 2, charing eight people and seizing $170,000 of cannabis products. Three of the raided pot shops have since reopened.

Earlier this month, the province announced its plan to open 50 government-run pot dispensaries and an online delivery service by the summer, when the federal Liberals are expected to make good on the pledge to legalize recreational marijuana by the July 1, 2018.

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

twitter.com/DaleatLFPress
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by papapuff » Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:17 am

cbc.ca



Most pot shops reopen in London, as pot advocate pushes for enforcement changes

"London police are doing the right thing in enforcing the law," says former police chief

By Hala Ghonaim, CBC News Posted: Sep 28, 2017

Four of six pot dispensaries are back in business after London Police raided and shut down the shops in several crackdowns since the spring.

Last week, police raided the London Relief Centre in the downtown core, arresting five people and seizing about $50,000 worth of marijuana products. It reopened on Tuesday.

A coordinated police raid in March saw the closure of five pot dispensaries across the city – three of which are operating today.

Ian Dawkins, president of the Cannabis Association of Canada, said London Police are wasting their time and resources shutting down pot shops that are only going to reopen and increase in number across the city.

"We as a society are evolving and realizing that there are better ways to tackle these problems," he said.

"The best thing law enforcement could do right now is to start getting ready for the future. If they're having this black and white, shut them down attitude, right now then how are they going to be ready for day one of actual legalization?"

Dawkins said police should consider reaching out to pot users and consider changes in enforcement geared toward the public interest

However, Murray Faulkner, a former London Police chief, said it's not up to the police to dictate any changes. Instead, pot advocates should take their concerns to lawmakers.

"People want to talk about policing but it's not just about policing … (Pot dispensary owners) know what the legislation is going to be because the government has already said it," he said. "Don't blame the police… (Pot advocates) need to conduct comments to legislation."

As for resources, Faulkner said the force has plenty, with raids and investigations being allotted for.

"It is still illegal (activity) … The London police are doing the right thing in enforcing the law that is still in existence."

Health Canada regulations allow Canadians to legally purchase medical marijuana from licensed sellers.

Ontario announced a plan to sell marijuana online and in 40 stand-alone LCBO shops when the federal government legalizes recreational pot use on July 1, 2018.

Raided and reopened

Tasty Budd's - 96 Wharncliffe Road South
Healing Health Compassion - 490 Wonderland Road South
Healing Health Compassion -1472 Dundas Street
The London Relief Centre - 691 Richmond Street.

Raided and closed

The Chronic Hub - 119 Dundas Street
Herbal Alternatives - 737 Hamilton Road
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