‘Ottawa’ Pot Shops on Preston Street, Montreal Road Reopen After Police Raids
Two of the pot shops raided by police two weeks ago are back in business.
The Green Tree dispensaries on Preston Street and Montreal Road opened on the weekend. Both were sparsely stocked Monday with a few jars of dried weed selling for $10 to $14 a gram. The popular edibles — cannabis cookies, brownies, candy and pop — will be available later this week, said a clerk at one of the stores.
There’s no ATM available yet, a clerk at the Montreal Road dispensary explained to one customer, pointing to the spot where police ripped it out of the floor during the Nov. 4 raids.
The shops are among seven dispensaries closed after Ottawa police drug officers executed search warrants and seized merchandise. Nine employees were arrested.
At the time, police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the raids were a warning that the shops are not wanted in the community. Ottawa police say they continue to investigate the remaining dispensaries.
It’s not surprising the shops have popped back up — that’s what happened in Toronto, said Ottawa Coun. Mathieu Fleury. Police in that city have raided about 50 dispensaries since last spring. Some reopened and new ones sprang up.
“It’s cat and mouse until the federal legislation is in place,” said Fleury. “A lot of them are just trying to make a buck in the short term.”
The federal government has promised to introduce legislation in the spring to legalize recreational pot. Medical cannabis is already legal by mail order from a producer licensed by Health Canada.
The police raids may have helped clear up some confusion, says Fleury. Some customers, employees and even city social service caseworkers who referred clients to them didn’t realize the dispensaries were illegal, he said.
The clerk at Green Tree on Montreal Road said he was told by his boss that the operation is “fully licensed.”
“I’m not doing anything illegal. I’m just working in a store. I’m not sure how the police will look at it,” he said. “To be honest, it’s cash weekly. I can’t really go wrong with that. I’ve got bills to pay, kids to feed.”
Clerks at both stores declined to give their names and said they could not reveal the names of the manager or owners.
The landlord of the Green Tree dispensary on Preston Street, John Sanders, said they are good tenants. “I have no issue with them. It doesn’t bother me what they do, as long as they pay the rent.”
Several customers at both Green Tree locations said buying marijuana in a store is safer than purchasing it on the street. Pot is not as harmful as alcohol or harder drugs, and police should not devote resources to shutting down the shops, said one woman emerging from the Preston Street store.