Pot dis­pensery work­ers stage protest be­fore their court case

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JACQUIE MILLER [email protected]­media.com

Five clerks who were charged dur­ing a po­lice raid on a Cannabis Cul­ture shop ear­lier this month staged a protest at the court­house Wed­nes­day be­fore their first ap­pear­ance on drug traf­fick­ing charges.

The “bud­ten­ders” were joined by half a dozen sup­port­ers who waved signs say­ing “Free the Weed!” and “No Prison for Pot.”

The clerks are among 29 peo­ple charged in po­lice raids on 14 mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries in Ot­tawa since last Novem­ber. Po­lice have warned that the dis­pen­saries are il­le­gal, and carry prod­ucts that are un­reg­u­lated and may be un­safe.

Cannabis Cul­ture is a brand cre­ated by ac­tivists Marc and Jodie Emery, some­times dubbed Canada’s Prince and Princess of Pot. The Emerys were ar­rested ear­lier this month as part of a Toronto po­lice op­er­a­tion against the chain.

Bud­ten­der Alexan­der New­combe, who was at the court­house, called the raids a waste of money be­cause the gov­ern­ment has promised to le­gal­ize recre­ational mar­i­juana.

“We hope the Crown will wise up and drop the charges.”

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau ad­mit­ted to smok­ing pot him­self when he was an MP, New­combe said. “So why doesn’t he put him­self up for charges? “It’s a joke at this point.” An­other of the five bud­ten­ders said he made a liv­ing for a decade as a “small-time” dealer sell­ing weed to friends be­fore he got the job at Cannabis Cul­ture. Dis­pen­saries have taken busi­ness away from street deal­ers, said the man, who uses mar­i­juana him­self for a stom­ach con­di­tion. “I don’t have a crim­i­nal record, I have a daugh­ter to take care of and a wife with med­i­cal is­sues. There’s no way in hell I can go to jail.”

Bud­ten­der Michael Pat­ter­son said the cus­tomers at Cannabis Cul­ture are a mix of med­i­cal and recre­ational mar­i­juana users of every age and de­scrip­tion, from grand­moth­ers to civil ser­vants who drop in on their lunch hour.

The bud­ten­ders were rep­re­sented in court by the law firm of Kirk Tou­saw, a B.C. lawyer spe­cial­iz­ing in cannabis law, who was part of char­ter chal­lenges that forced the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to al­low med­i­cal pa­tients to grow their own pot and have ac­cess to cannabis de­riv­a­tives.

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