ON: Owner Calls For Local Regulation After Police Raid Storefront Cannabis Dispensary

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Tim Burdick received a shock yesterday when he arrived at Sunrise Medicinal in downtown Barrie to find police had raided the marijuana dispensary and arrested employees.

He had driven from his Oro-Medonte home to get medical marijuana to help him deal with the nausea and lack of appetite due to cancer treatments.

“It sucks. It’s the only reason I came down,” he said. “I’ll have to go to the black market. I’m not driving to Toronto, and who (there) has any left?”

Months after Toronto Police raided dozens of illegal marijuana dispensaries in May, Barrie Police cracked down on two storefront dispensaries here Tuesday.

Responding to community complaints, the Street Crime Unit raided Sunrise Medicinal on Dunlop Street East and Med West on Dunlop Street West at 11 a.m.

People were arrested at both locations, with charges against four announced yesterday.

A worker at Sunrise, a 63-year-old Wasaga Beach man, and three people described by police as owner/operators of Med West – a 30-year-old Coldwater man and two Barrie men, 29 and 30 – are all charged with trafficking a controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking. They are all to appear in court in Barrie Sept. 28.

Burdick said he would rather the dispensaries be made legal so people who legitimately need medical marijuana can access it, noting the staff and owner at Sunrise Medicinal appeared professional and knowledgeable.

William Haire of Barrie took a cab from his girlfriend’s Innisfil home to Sunrise yesterday to get medical marijuana.

“It shouldn’t be illegal. It’s just a pain in the rear end,” he said.

Now Burdick plans to deal with Tweed Main Street on Dunlop Street, which is a legal operation dispensing advice and connections to doctors and licensed pot producers.

Haire said he uses Sunrise because to access the product through Health Canada can take three or four days.

“It’s always been good for me,” he said of Sunrise. “They should all be legal.”

He questioned why Sunrise was not shut down earlier because he had been going there for the last month.

Barrie Police Service worked with the City of Barrie’s bylaw department, the Crown attorney’s office and the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit leading up to the raid, Rodgers said.

“It was definitely a lengthy investigation. Anything to do with this magnitude of investigation is what takes time,” she said. “There’s a long process in gathering evidence and making sure we can execute warrants with the information that we need.”

Police will continue to work with Health Canada and enforce Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, the police service said in a media release.

The marijuana dispensaries are not Health Canada-licensed producers or distributors as defined in the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), according to Barrie Police.

Health Canada states “only producers who are authorized to produce and sell to the public may sell or provide dried marijuana, fresh marijuana or cannabis oil to eligible persons.”

Sunrise’s owner, Joseph Bidinot, who did not return calls for comment, made a presentation to Barrie’s finance committee in June, encouraging the city to regulate the industry locally.

The committee decided not to move forward with any changes, but Sunrise’s operational model was then reviewed by the city.

“Sunrise Medicinal believes that municipal bylaws are required for this new industry,” Bidinot said at the time.

He added regulation is less about capping the number of medical cannabis storefronts, rather operating them in a “responsible manner that protects the interests of the community and patients.”

Coun. Rose Romita, whose ward covers downtown Barrie, said she was happy to see police shut down Sunrise and Med West.

“It doesn’t matter what they’re selling, it’s an illegal operation. The cops had to do what they had to do,” she said. “If you need medical marijuana, you get it through the proper means. Period. With no licence, it was only a matter of time. Time’s up.”

Romita said, before the raids, another dispensary was planning to open on Innisfil Street.

“I hope this is loud and clear: don’t come,” she said.

Doug Rawson, president of Simcoe Holistic Health, a legal medical marijuana clinic on Cedar Point Drive, said the industry is confusing to people.

“It’s not really clear what’s legal and not legal,” said Rawson, who is also a councillor in Penetanguishene. “I’m happy that the current regulations are being enforced and they’re not making pawns of the patients.”

Lucie Dallaire, owner of Fountain of Youth Salon & Spa, which is next to Med West, said she was shocked when her neighbour was arrested because she thought the business was legal.

“They were good neighbours,” she said, adding he even installed a charcoal filter between the two businesses so her customers would not smell marijuana. “I thought they sold to the wrong people. That was my assumption. I was playing private investigator.”

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Owner Calling For Local Regulation After Barrie Police Raid Storefront Marijuana Dispensary
Author: Jenni Dunning
Contact: Simcoe
Photo Credit: Doug Shutter
Website: Simcoe