Representatives of the two Chemainus cannabis dispensaries are facing a court date Feb. 20 in Duncan to answer charges of marijuana possession with the intent of trafficking.
The charges stem from police raids at Green Aura Cannabis Dispensary and Leaf Compassion, plus Duncan’s Green Tree Dispensary, almost a year ago on March 3, 2017.
“Basically, we had charges pending and we had a court date in July,” pointed out Green Aura’s Trevor Pewarchuk. “The Crown had not prepared anything and we were under the impression nothing was going to happen.”
The Crown eventually informed Kirk Tousaw of Tousaw Law, who’s representing both dispensaries, that charges were being pursued.
Both establishments have been calling on their clientele to write letters of support pertaining to the medicinal value of the cannabis they receive to state their case. Both intend to plead not guilty.
“We’ve never really had any problems aside from these silly laws not allowing us to operate,” said Leaf Compassion founder Kyle Cheyne, who also has outlets in Victoria, Port Alberni, Courtenay and Salt Spring Island.
Neither place was ever granted a business license to operate legally in North Cowichan.
“I’ve been doing this for six years now,” Cheyne indicated. “This is the first time Crown is going forward with any charges against me.”
“Basically, what we’re working on now, our legal counsel feels things will go in our favour as long as our members support us,” pointed out Pewarchuk.
He added Tousaw is highly-regarded as the best lawyer for cannabis-related issues in Canada.
“Our No. 1 hope is this gets dropped before this even happens.”
“It’s sad we’re both being charged,” offered Cheyne. “In Chemainus, it seems like everything has been well.
“There’s no reason why it’s been so negative in the Municipality of North Cowichan.
“I thought up until a couple of months ago, they were going to be able to deal with us. Nobody’s got hurt from the medication anyone has been giving.”
The pending legalization date for marijuana of July 1 is clouding the issue.
“The government says right now cannabis is like crack,” noted Cheyne. “It’s a very interesting time.”
But until that time, the dispensary operators have been well aware they could be charged at any time for continuing to do business.
Green Aura opened in November of 2016, applied for licensing and was denied, and had a couple of tickets issued along the way before the March 3 raid.
Leaf Compassion has been open for more than two years.
“We’re fighting and we’re hoping for the best,” assessed Cheyne. “I’m really confident for the Chemainus case.
“In Chemainus, we have these very professional two dispensaries and they’re willing to stand up.”
“We are so mortified and angered by this ridiculous action against us,” Pewarchuk concluded.