Marijuana Lounge Farm Assists To Partially Reopen After Raid

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Canada - The owner of Halifax's first medical marijuana lounge says he plans to reopen part of his store on Tuesday morning despite being shut down in a police raid and charged with trafficking marijuana. Christopher Enns Рwho owns Farm Assists Рand his fianc̩e Sherri Reeve were charged with drug trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, breach of an undertaking, proceeds of crime and production of a controlled substance after the lounge was raided on Friday.

A 40-year-old Timberlea man – an employee of Farm Assists – was also charged. Enns was released from custody on Monday afternoon under conditions limiting him to the terms of his Health Canada medical marijuana licence – meaning he cannot produce, possess or use marijuana under any other circumstances except as his licence allows. He's due back in court on Sept. 29. "I think for this afternoon we'll remain closed, but I'm sure at least the hemp shop and vapour lounge will be back open tomorrow morning," Enns told reporters after he was released on Monday. "The dispensary, for now, will remain closed." Farm Assists, on Gottingen Street, was set up as a place where licensed medical marijuana users could inhale vaporized marijuana and buy marijuana. It opened in July.

Supporters rally
More than a dozen supporters of Enns and Reeve rallied outside Halifax provincial court on Monday and argued the laws governing medical marijuana must be changed. "Somebody has to be willing to stick their neck out," said Chris Backer with Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana. "I just thank God that I know somebody like Chris who's willing to stick his neck out there and do this for people that need it, because nobody else is willing to do it."

Halifax Regional Police officers seized marijuana and cash when they raided Farm Assists on Friday. The lounge raid was one of three sweeps that day, which police said were all connected. Police also seized hundreds of marijuana plants from a secluded warehouse in East Chezzetcook, tucked away in the Eastern Shore Industrial Park. They also seized more drugs and cash from a house down the road from the warehouse.

Sources told CBC News the house belonged to Enns, 29, and Reeve, 47. Reeve, who was released from police custody on Saturday, said Enns knew a raid was a possibility when he opened Farm Assists. "He was ready to tackle the legal issues in order to change the laws in Canada for patients, so that they can find safe access," she said Monday. "I think this is obviously a law that needs to be changed. You can't give people a licence and then not give them access." Reeve said the couple has secured a lawyer and they're prepared to fight the charges.

'No other options'
Meanwhile, marijuana activists in other parts of the country voiced their support for Farm Assists and its owner. "It's very unfortunate that the police there want to make taking medicine away from sick and dying people a top priority," said Dana Larsen, a medical marijuana dispenser in Vancouver.

"Here in Vancouver, we have over 40 medical cannabis dispensaries providing medicine for thousands and thousands of patients." Larsen said he believes police resources would be better used elsewhere. "I really feel the people of Halifax would probably rather see their tax dollars go to the police enforcing real crimes rather than coming after people who need marijuana for medicine," he said. Backer said Farm Assists filled a need in the city for those with nowhere else to turn.

"All you're affecting is sick people," he said. "They're supplying it at prices lower than the licensed producers, at prices comparable to growing it yourself half the time. The fact that they're taking it away from people, they're leaving them with no other options." Health Canada, the regulator of medical marijuana, has said storefronts and dispensaries that distribute cannabis are illegal, adding it's up to local authorities to deal with stores that distribute marijuana. Halifax Regional Police said anyone who sells marijuana, including at a marijuana lounge, is breaking the law.



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Source: Cbc.ca
Author: CBC News
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Website: Marijuana lounge Farm Assists to partially reopen after raid - Nova Scotia - CBC News