'We have to make a stand': Owner of marijuana dispensary speaks out after arrest
The owner of a Halifax medical marijuana dispensary says the business will continue to operate, despite being raided last week.
“We have to make a stand,” said 66-year-old Shirley Martineau. “I’m here for the patients and I’m not quitting anytime soon. I’m sorry, but I can’t.”
Martineau opened Auntie’s Health and Wellness on Barrington Street four months ago. Last month she told CTV Atlantic she would sell cannabis to anyone over the age of 19, whether or not they have a prescription for medical marijuana.
Canadians who have been authorized to use medical marijuana have to purchase it through a producer licensed by Health Canada. While the federal government is moving to legalize marijuana, selling it in a storefront is currently illegal, even if it’s for medicinal purposes.
But Martineau says many doctors aren’t giving out permits, and she can’t turn cancer patients away.
“I’d like to wait until April or whenever it becomes legal too, but with the people coming to me daily, it just got to me,” said Martineau. “I said that’s it, that’s all, I can’t wait for the doctors to get on board with this at all, so I guess I gotta make a stand, and I did.”
She said she would sell cannabis to people without prescriptions, even if it meant going to jail. That’s exactly what happened on Friday as Martineau and three of her employees were arrested and taken into custody.
Police said they executed a search warrant at Auntie’s Health and Wellness and made the arrests after receiving a public complaint.
Martineau is now facing charges of cultivating marijuana and two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.
Three of her employees, a 42-year-old Dartmouth man, a 22-year-old man, and a 24-year-old Lower Sackville man each face one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking in marijuana and possession for the purpose of trafficking cannabis resin.
The store has since reopened, with security outside, checking IDs at the door. Police say they are monitoring the store and the investigation is ongoing.
Martineau is appealing the city’s decision not to grant her business an occupancy permit because the sale of marijuana through a storefront is illegal and against city bylaws.
Kelly Pye, who works at another medical marijuana dispensary in the city, says he’s sympathetic, but not concerned about his own business.
“I respect what she tried to do, but unfortunately I think it backfired,” said Pye.
“I’m not really concerned about it because we’re following all the guidelines from Health Canada. In order to get in here and grab any prescription marijuana you have to show a valid photo ID, or a licence producer card or a valid prescription for medical marijuana. Otherwise, you can’t access it here.”
Martineau is set to appear in court on Feb. 7.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Allan April