Supporters protest arrest of pot dispensary owner
With recreational cannabis only about three weeks away, questions are swirling about police crackdowns on the marijuana dispensaries already operating.
A number of them were raided in Nova Scotia's Kings County last week, prompting a noisy and emotional-protest at the courthouse in Kentville on Monday.
While medical marijuana is perfectly legal in Canada, police say these dispensaries are not.
Still, that prompted the rare display of a protest outside a courthouse in Kentville where a drug case was being heard.
For the demonstrators, this was no ordinary case.
“She is an extraordinary person, and what they're doing is completely wrong and she does not deserve to be sitting in there,” Kelly Stoddart said of Heidi Chartrand.
Stoddart was arrested with her boss Friday morning and released, but Chartrand had to wait for a bail hearing on Monday.
Chartrand was arrested Friday for “possession with intent because of her involvement with the medical cannabis dispensary in the Annapolis Valley,” said Debbie Stultz-Giffin of Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana.
Police raids on marijuana dispensaries often spark high emotions and there have been a lot of them in recent years.
Even with recreational legalization looming, Health Canada insists it's committed to maintaining the medical marijuana system it put in place a couple of years ago.
That system has led to a proliferation of dispensaries, but police insist every one of them is technically illegal.
“At the current time, the only way to obtain medical marijuana legally is through the mail via Health Canada,” said Nova Scotia RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jennifer Clarke.
Chartrand had to wait until 3:30 to be released from custody, and dozens of supporters were there to greet her.
What will happen to her dispensaries -- and all the others -- remains to be seen when pot is available in government-run stores in just a few weeks.
In a second raid on Friday, police searched a home and business in Annapolis County, and charges are expected there as well. The other six accused were released, but they, too will be in Kentville court on Dec. 18, which will likely be another emotional court-appearance.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.