Brett Steves, manager, said store had become unsustainable. (THE NEWS/files)

Hammond cannabis store closes its doors

Maple Ridge outlet raided Dec. 18, will not re-open

The Hammond Compassion Society store that provided pot in Hammond for four years is closing its doors for good.

“Our activism is over, we will no longer be participating in the industry of cannabis,” Brett Steeves said Thursday.

The store is closing Sunday.

We are stepping aside to allow a new group to come into Hammond and open a legal retail cannabis store,” Steeves said in an e-mail.

Read more: Provincial police raid Hammond pot store

Police officers with the provincial Community Safety Unit raided the store, also known as Deacon Blues, on Dec. 18, posting a notice on the windows and closing the doors to the public.

The Community Safety Unit, a division of the Public Safety Ministry, works with police to shut down unlicensed sellers that still hold the vast majority of the B.C. cannabis market.

Steeves said that since the store opened four years ago, its sales of recreational cannabis allowed the store to provide medicinal cannabis, for free, to those suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Crohn’s disease and, “so many other different illnesses we can’t even quantify it all.”

He added that during the past six months, as more stores were closed by the Community Safety Unit, the store, as one of the last unlicensed medicinal stores, was inundated with customers from throughout the Fraser Valley, Vancouver and around B.C.

Read more: One store in Maple Ridge remains for pot puffers

“This wasn’t about access to cannabis, but access to free medical cannabis,” Steeves said.

When the store’s clinical clients out-numbered its recreational clients three to one, the store had become financially unsustainable, Steeves said.

“We had become financially unsustainable, which is direct result of a far-reaching issue of affordability, with the collateral damage being perpetrated here, on our senior citizens and the sick, those who are most vulnerable in our society, people who are actually suffering as a result of the actions of the representatives of the Crown,” Steeves said.

On behalf of the society’s board, he thanked the Ridge Meadows RCMP, Maple Ridge council, the community of Maple Ridge, and the historic neighbourhood of Port Hammond.

A spokesman for the Liquor Distribution Branch said approval has been given to open a government-owned cannabis shop at 207th Street and Lougheed Highway, but there’s no opening date yet.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Canada in October.

Health Canada put a 60-day wait period on edibles to evaluate all the products and make sure they were safe for consumption.

“Most of the products will be coming out through the course of January,” said Jeff Sweetnam, owner of Spiritleaf in Maple Ridge.

“We’re getting a limited selection of chocolates, mints, cookies and some cartridges to start, but the bulk of it is going to be coming through January and even into February.”



pmelnychuk@mapleridgenews.com

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