Compassion at Penticton cannabis shop goes up in smoke

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Cannabis Cottage

Cannabis Cottage is in the heart of downtown Penticton so many of its customers are people living on the street.

“We want to do, socially, what we can to support them and show them that there is reward if they do the right thing,” budtender Jaimie Miller-Haywood told

But earlier this week, a thief who had been given a reward and a second chance came back, stole again from the store’s tip jar, then bought a joint with the stolen money.

The first incident happened last fall.

“She came in and, as I was coming around to the sales floor, I heard our tip jar tingle, because it’s a tin cup,” Miller-Haywood said. “I knew she had stolen it. So I confronted her and yelled and demanded she give it back and she just turned around and walked out. She seemed like she was quite distressed. She was whimpering and she didn’t seem like she really wanted to do that but, given her situation, felt like she had to.”

Miller-Haywood’s boss immediately posted the incident to Facebook to warn other downtown businesses that the thief was on the prowl.

A few days later Amanda Stewart, owner of Valley Hemp, saw the thief on the street.

“Amanda pulled over and gave her a real finger wagging, quite loud and publicly so that passersby could hear her and the girl was quite embarrassed by the incident,” Miller-Haywood.

“A few days later the thief brought the money back to Amanda and said: ‘I’m sorry I stole your friend’s money. Can you please return this to her and thank you for stopping me on the street and saying what you said. It helped me realize I’ve got to stop stealing.’”

Some weeks later the thief returned to Cannabis Cottage and Miller-Haywood’s boss gave her a Safeway gift card.

“We understand that people make mistakes and we understand people with mental health and addiction issues make mistakes and they deserve a second chance,” Miller-Haywood said. “It’s only $20. It’s not like she did something more heinous. We want her to straighten herself out. I personally feel like she’s got a lot to offer if she got the resources to stop thieving and get off the street.”

That was the happy ending to the story. Until April 11.

“The girl came back and we have video footage of her with her fingers in the tip jar,” Miller-Haywood said.

When Miller-Haywood came on the sales floor she saw the thief near the tip jar but didn’t actually see her take anything.

“I didn’t feel comfortable accusing her, even though I saw her hovering,” Miller-Haywood said. “She could have been just about to go into the tip jar for all I know or just coming out. I wasn’t going to make an accusation over that. She ended up buying a joint here with the money stolen out of the tip jar.”

The first theft was of about $20. Yesterday, Miller-Haywood had seen $15 to $20 in the tip jar but there was only $10 after the thief left.

She’s now banned for life.

“If she comes in the door, we’re going to call the cops,” Miller-Haywood said.

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While the workers in Cannabis Cottage are compassionate, that only goes so far.

“We are all a part of this downtown tomfoolery that’s happening right now, the social decay that’s happening,” Miller-Haywood said. “I know it’s happening all across North America and beyond but, specifically, what we can deal with in our community is to do what we can to help support.

“A lot of our clientele are people who live on the street and I think it’s very remarkable that people who are living on the street can pull together a little bit of change and they come and spend it in our licenced shop as opposed to spending it elsewhere out on the street.

“We want to help support people to make the transition off the street and back into society if that’s at all possible, and making them feel like they’re part of our community. That is really important to us in this shop but, we run out of patience too.”

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