January 06, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - Medical marijuana dispensaries in Vernon were warned about police raids, but an armed robbery got one of them first.
Police said three men robbed Black Crow Herbal Dispensary on 48 Avenue at gunpoint the evening of Dec. 30, making off with cash and marijuana products. The robbery comes on the heels of an RCMP warning telling dispensaries to shut down or face possible arrests, and one pot advocate says the two might be connected.
“It (robbery) might have come because thieves feel police won’t help these places,” B.C. activist Dana Larsen says. “(Dispensaries) need to feel confident that if they call police, police will protect them and not just seize product while they’re there, but deal with the real criminals.”
Black Crow Herbal Dispensary declined an interview request, and police stated on Monday, Jan. 4 they weren’t commenting any further on the case. The original RCMP press release issued Dec. 31 said investigators made an arrest at a home in Chase in connection with the robbery. According to court records, one man in his 40s was charged with a firearm related offence, but a stay of proceedings was entered Jan. 4. Police said three men were involved in the robbery, but have not commented on any additional arrests.
Larsen says the robbery is unfortunate, but nothing other businesses like jewellery stores and pharmacies don’t deal with themselves.
"Dispensaries aren't robbed more than any other kind of business, it just gets more attention when it happens to them," Larsen says. “I don’t think dispensaries need special security beyond any other business."
Common dispensary practices are to use safes, video surveillance, and to keep only small amounts of product on the front counter shelves, he says.
In light of recent police warnings, Larsen hopes local detachments will hold off on any action until the federal Liberal government establishes new marijuana laws, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised in his election campaign.
“The people of Vernon, if their voices were heard, they’d want the police to not blow $100,000 on raiding dispensaries,” Larsen says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016