Phoenix Pain Management Society’s medical pot dispensary in downtown Parksville was raided by police at approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
“They arrested Karl (Mitchell), Jackson the dog was taken, they took everything including the medications,” Phoenix managing director Akil Pessoa told The NEWS a couple hours later.
Mitchell was released from the Oceanside detachment before 8 p.m. with charges pending, Pessoa said, adding that Jackson, “who’s become a bit of a celebrity,” was being well taken care of by the SPCA and would be released after the Easter long weekend.
Upon release from police, Mitchell posted on Facebook: “Just a road bump on the way towards ending prohibition…Stay strong everyone, the future can’t keep us out! They may have slowed me down for the time being, but soon as they realize how many people we help on the day-to-day I’ll be right back at it.”
“RCMP officers love to bust dispensaries right before a long weekend,” said Amanda Orum, mid-Island riding organizer for Sensible B.C. “Its a huge kick in the face to the patients who just got a check and are now without medicine.”
Around 9 p.m. Phoenix’s Facebook page posted that their Nanaimo location was “still serving medicine,” despite their Parksville location’s raid, and they would try to make arrangements to get their product to patients who couldn’t get to Nanaimo.
A red Parksville city bylaw notice on the front door states: “this property has been used in respect of the manufacture, ingestion, use, sharing, sale, trade, or barter of a controlled substance.”
It says that according to the Controlled Substances Property Remediation Bylaw Number 1411, 2006, “no person may occupy, or use these premises for any commercial use, until cleaning and remediation have been completed…” signed by Parksville’s Director of Community Planning, Blaine Russell.
“Like I’ve always said I take my cue from the RCMP and if they raided it, obviously they felt they had reason to do so,” said Parksville mayor Marc Lefebvre Friday when The NEWS told him of the raid.
That has been Lefebvre’s position since the dispensary opened in January when he said the RCMP “said it’s illegal so it’s illegal. Whatever the RCMP tell me, the city will comply.”
“I know, Staff Sgt. Hunter told me they’d be on the lookout for illegal activity, but I didn’t know anything about this,” Lefebvre said Friday.
The RCMP and Phoenix’s lawyer could not be reached for comment on the holiday Friday morning.
The RCMP have previously called the dispensary “completely illegal,” and Cpl. Jesse Foreman said “we’ll do what we have to do,” in terms of shutting it down “if they are doing anything illegal.”
Earlier this year, some of the society’s supporters protested at city hall suggesting the city and RCMP should have other priorities, with Pessoa asking “Why are you bullying sick people?… We know that we can help them, we know the country’s going in a direction that will allow them to be helped.”
Jamie Shaw, president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries told The NEWS in January that compassion clubs “continue to exist for the same reasons they started: there are some very ill people whose lives can be greatly improved by cannabis, and due to the legal status of this plant as a controlled substance, they either can’t access it, can’t access it affordably, can’t access it in a form that works, can’t access it safely, or consistently, or can’t access a safe supply without dispensaries existing.”
After the Parksville dispensary opened Pessoa said they were not dispensing marijuana there but directing people to their Nanaimo location.
In February they did start distributing marijuana based cannabinoid products to their members in Parksville.
Watch The Parksville Qualicum Beach News for more on this developing story.
– with files from Candace Wu