By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Despite Friday morning’s police raids, one medical marijuana dispensary is vowing to keep its doors open.
The 420 Compassion Centre on Simcoe Street South steps away from Memorial Park was one of three medical marijuana dispensaries targetted by Durham police in a series of raids prior to the weekend.
Among the four people arrested during the raids was Justin Long, who works at 420.
“(The police) came in around 10:30 a.m. right after we opened,” Long says.
“They arrested me, seized our product, charged with a number of offences like trafficking and receiving proceeds of crime. They released me from there, and I have a court date some time in October. Basically that’s what happened.”
Long says the dispensary received a notice from Durham police toward the end of August, notifying them that their operation was illegal and that they had to close down. However, despite the notice, the decision was made to keep the store open.
“People around there need this product. Some people are cracked out and on methadone, painkillers, all that stuff,” says Alex Doan, the dispensary’s owner.
“You can get arrested for oxycodone and spend 10 years in jail for it, but (doctors are) still prescribing it. Instead they go after us and the dispensaries. It makes no sense.”
Doan says that despite Friday’s raid, he plans to keep the 420 Compassion Centre open.
“People need us. I make more money at my other job with no headaches, but with this I’m making a difference for people around there,” Doan says.
“People need their medication,” Long adds.
“Due to a lack of access, people that don’t have proper addresses to send medication or people that don’t have money to join an online dispensary or a (licensed producer), they need to have somewhere to access it, and I’m willing to stand up for the right for that access.”
Another dispensary that was targeted during the raids, Emerald Triangle, remained closed as of press time.
“We’re helping and educating”
One Oshawa dispensary that did not get raided by police was Temple Medicinal. However, that is not to say Temple got let off the hook.
“(The police) came in to the centre on Friday and told us that we will be receiving a letter,” Temple’s manager, who asked not to be identified, tells The Oshawa Express.
“After that, we’re planning to close.”
Temple’s manager says that he expects the letter will come with a 10-day period in which the centre must close its doors or be raided by police. The dispensaries that were raided by police on Friday received similar letters at the end of August.
The dispensary’s manager says that while he will not fight the police’s order to close, he sees his business and others like it as a necessity in the community.
“We have patients suffering from everything from MS, AIDS and cancer,” he says.
“This isn’t a money-making operation. We’re helping and educating. When we say to people that we’re closing, we’re getting sad faces. This is a special place. People feel like they can be helped here.”
The manager says that the law needs to change in order for businesses like his to keep their doors open and for those using medical marijuana to have easier access.
“It’s not Durham police’s fault, it’s not the OPP’s fault and it’s not the RCMP’s fault. They’re just doing their job and upholding the constitution and the law,” he says.
“It’s the Liberals’ faults. People are getting criminal records, and they’re just sitting on their asses.”
Over the summer, the federal government announced it was creating a task force that would advise how best to go ahead with legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The Liberals have also announced they intend to introduce legalization legislation in the spring of 2017.