Police outside the Hammond Compassion Society. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

Update: Provincial police raid Hammond pot store

Compassion society on Maple Crescent opened in 2015.

The cannabis store operated by the Hammond Compassion Society on Maple Crescent was raided Wednesday by provincial inspection officers.

The Hammond Compassion Society, a non-profit society also known as Deacon Blues, opened the store in 2015 to provide medicinal marijuana.

Ridge Meadows RCMP Const. Julie Klaussner confirmed that a provincial inspection team (Community Safety Unit) acted on the Hammond Compassion Society, not the local detachment.

“This is not us, it is the Provincial Inspection Team.”

Maple Ridge Coun. Gordy Robson confirmed that the action wasn’t directed by the city.

And he wonders why the government is raiding unlicensed stores without approving more applications for licensed cannabis stores.

He noted there are 12 applications awaiting a decision in Maple Ridge, with two of those being for provincial stores.

Read more: Council OKs first step for second Maple Ridge pot store

“Approve them and then do it. What they’re doing is taking away the supply to everybody in Maple Ridge,” Robson said.

He’d like to see about five cannabis stores in Maple Ridge.

The province had considered a cannabis store in the 207th Street area of Maple Ridge.

“Only the provincial government could figure how to lose money selling pot,” Robson added.

The city has approved the locations of several store applications and referred them to the provincial government for review.

Council recently told the Haney Hotel to apply for a text amendment to the zoning bylaw as part of the process of seeking a cannabis store in that location.

Read more: Medical pot in Hammond

Legalization took place across Canada in October 2018, but only one store so far has been licensed and opened in Maple Ridge.

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.

Its raids included the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, which operated for more than 20 years as a medical dispensary.

Read more: Mike Farnworth’s special police unit takes down dispensaries

“We’ve had a good response,” said Mike Farnworth, public safety minister and solicitor general at the end of October.

“At last count, there have been 50-some-odd illegal operations that have either shut down voluntarily or have had their product and the cash confiscated by the Community Safety Unit.”

To date, safety unit officers have visited over 220 unlicensed retailers for the purposes of education and to raise awareness about cannabis laws, the penalties and consequences for violating federal and provincial regulatory regimes, added Hope Latham of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Information was also shared on how to obtain a non-medical cannabis retail license and the enforcement activities of the safety unit.

“The CSU has undertaken enforcement action against unlicensed retailers in several communities across B.C.,” he added.

“In all cases, significant amounts of cannabis in a variety of forms [dried, edibles, concentrates, extracts, oils] have been seized.

“Our goal, from the start, has been voluntary compliance. However, those who continue to operate illegally should be warned that, if they do not obtain a provincial licence, they will have to close or will face increased enforcement action from the CSU.”

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

Maple Ridge, in 2018, passed a bylaw prohibiting cannabis sales as an interim step while the process of legalizing non-medicinal marijuana began.

No one from the society has yet been available for comment, nor the city.

The Hammond Compassion Society also had applied to the Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch for a licence to sell recreational pot.

Brett Steeves, society manager, said last year that there’s no requirement to close for an extended time before moving from an unlicenced medicinal marijuana dispensary to a licenced, retail outlet for recreational marijuana.

Anyone seeking to open a recreation retail pot store has to apply to the Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch, which then forwards the application to the local city council.

However, there’s a backlog of applications, leading to delays in new licences being issued.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said there’s a provincial process to follow in order to get approval for a cannabis store, while municipal business licensing is also required.

“Council’s expectation is that Deacon Blues follow the legal, regulatory requirements,” Morden said Wednesday.

That day’s raid came the day before B.C. residents can purchase cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals – legal in Canada since Oct. 17.

Read more: New city bylaw prohibits all pot sales

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Police outside the Hammond Compassion Society. (Phil Melnychuk – THE NEWS)

Just Posted

Rainfall warning says significant showers forecast for entire region

Rain moving across Howe Sound, The Fraser Valley and northern parts of Metro Vancouver this morning.

SHARE: Maple Ridge offers bounty of raging rivers

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon

Inspector leaving Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment

Paradis has been promoted to superintendent in new role with Surrey RCMP

Work continues on Pitt Meadows own RCMP detachment

City studying whether to renovate offices or build new detachment

Maple Ridge Rotary clubs launch new lottery

Winner could take home up to $85,000

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

Return-It depots change beverage container deposits from 20 to 10 cents

Change will be implemented on Oct. 1, with a transition period being held until Oct. 11

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Most Read