Free 'nugs' as Cannabis Culture shops make debut in Montreal

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Free 'nugs' as Cannabis Culture shops make debut in Montreal

Post by notsofasteddie » Sat 17th Dec 2016 02:01 pm

Free 'nugs' as Cannabis Culture shops make debut in Montreal

Christopher Curtis, Montreal Gazette
Published on: December 16, 2016

Marc Emery, left, addresses supporters during a news conference to announce the opening of Cannabis Culture marijuana stores, in Montreal, Thursday Dec. 15, 2016, as his wife, Jodie Emry looks on. Eight stores are set to be opened illegally in the city this week. Phil Carpenter / Montreal Gazett

Say what you will about his methods, but Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” knows how to make an entrance.

Throngs of admirers stood in the snow Thursday and cheered Marc Emery on as he rolled up to the opening of an illegal marijuana dispensary on Mont-Royal Ave. He held court in the shop for half an hour as he made an impassioned case for the legalization of pot — leaning on logic-based arguments honed over a career of marijuana advocacy.

Then he reached into a jar full of weed nuggets, held one up for the crowd to see and shouted “Who wants a free nug?” The audience hollered in approval.

Yes, the unveiling of an illegal dispensary actually ended in a massive weed giveaway.

Emery was in town to open eight new Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Montreal. Until the time police shut them down — should they choose to do so — the stores will sell pot for recreational users provided they’re at least 19 years old.

There are dispensaries in the Plateau-Mont-Royal, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, St-Michel, Rosemont-la-Petite-Patrie and downtown districts, although two of them – on Queen Mary Rd. and Bishop St. – did not open as planned because of permit issues.

Thursday night, despite arctic temperatures, hundreds of people lined up for two hours outside the dispensaries on Mont-Royal Ave. and St-Laurent Blvd. to get their Purple Kush ($7), Rock Star or Super Lemon Haze ($11).

“This should be normal,” said Reg, a connoisseur buying one gram of each variety. “Anyone here could call a dealer and have this at home. But here it’s out in the open.”

Claude, one of few older customers, said he couldn’t have imagined back in the 1970s that one day he would be buying pot over the counter like this.

“It’s like prohibition. But now this is happening and no one can stop it.”

“This is history in the making,” said Michael, an engineering student who came in from Laval to be at the Cannabis Culture shop on its first day. “And the police could shut it down tomorrow.”

Emery and his wife, Jodie, made no bones about the fact that their business is a criminal enterprise.

“Quebec is one of two provinces I have not been arrested in,” Emery said. “I’ve been arrested 28 times in Canada for marijuana and I’ve seen 34 prisons and jails in all that time. And yet even after 26 years of this kind of civil disobedience, the law still exists.”

While the Liberal government was elected last year on a promise to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana, trafficking the drug is still a criminal offence.

“Marijuana prohibition has never been legitimate, there has never been a real public policy reason for why this law exists,” Emery said. “It’s a complete abomination … and anyone who enforces this despicable law is a despicable person.”

Emery may soon count Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre among his list of despicables. Coderre said Thursday there would be “zero tolerance” for the storefronts.

There are two other dispensaries in the city, but police appear to tolerate them because they only sell medicinal marijuana to patients with a valid prescription. Neither has been raided in years.

The arrival of the Cannabis Culture franchises may upset this delicate balance. Emery’s rapidly-expanding chain includes 12 shops in Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton and Port Coquitlam, B.C. Most have been raided by police, but re-opened within days.

Customers wait outside the Cannabis Culture store on Mount-Royal Ave. in Montreal on Thursday, Dec.15, 2016. The recreational marijuana store opened to customers in the afternoon.
Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Things may not be so easy in Quebec. The Montreal police say they have opened an investigation into the cannabis stores, but would not comment further.

“The police, who I respect, don’t like this sort of a media splash,” said Marc-Boris St-Maurice, who runs the Fondation Marijuana dispensary on St-Laurent Blvd. “They could crack down and, in the past, this sort of thing has affected all of us. Even those among us who play by the rules.”

Emery says one of his Toronto boutiques serves more than 1,000 customers a day, that he pays sales tax on each transaction and that the Montreal locations will as well.

Prospective franchisees will pay six per cent of their gross sales to Emery and, sources say, a fee of between $5,000 and $10,000 to open a dispensary.

The Cannabis Culture pot mostly comes from grow operations in British Columbia, Jodie said, adding that it’s quality tested for pesticides and other contaminants. She claims none of the dispensary customers have ever been arrested.

“They can come and they can arrest me for buying weed if they want to,” said one customer, who wished to remain anonymous. “I didn’t do anything wrong and it won’t stop me from buying marijuana here. I don’t really drink beer, I’m not a bad guy, I just like to smoke weed. Check out how things are on the west coast, man. You can walk into a store and buy it there and society isn’t coming apart at the seams.”

Emery and Jodie have partnered with one “major investor” and a series of franchisees, but she said they’re keeping the names of their partners confidential.

Thursday’s rollout came just days after the federally-appointed Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation submitted its first report to Parliament. In it, the task force recommends the sale of marijuana in regulated storefront boutiques.

Asked why the couple didn’t wait until legalization before expanding their business, Jodie said it is only through activism, court challenges and direct action that real change can occur.

“Nearly half of all Canadians admit to using marijuana. Canadians voted for the Liberal party because they wanted legalization … Well this is what legalization looks like. … I beg the Montreal police: let us be in peace. Please do not cause harm to the harmless people who are choosing to work here and push forward this very important issue.”

Francis, waiting at the end of a long line of people to get into the store, said for him it wasn’t political. He just wanted to see how this stuff from B.C. compared to what he usually gets from his dealer.

“Everyone has pot – for a kid it’s easier to buy pot than cigarettes. So why not make it legal and control it?”

With files from Catherine Solyom


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Re: Free 'nugs' as Cannabis Culture shops make debut in Montreal

Post by notsofasteddie » Sat 17th Dec 2016 02:31 pm

Marc Emery arrested as police raid cannabis shops in Montreal

The self-decribed Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, is arrested in Montreal after opening a cannabis store.

CTV Montreal
Published Friday, December 16, 2016

Police raided all six recreational marijuana storefronts Friday, a day after they opened to fanfare in Montreal.

Cannabis Culture owner Marc Emery, the self-proclaimed Prince of Pot, was arrested at location at 2200 Mont-Royal Ave. E when the raids went down after 5 p.m. It was his 29th arrest.

"It's despicable and an injustice but we will win. The prime minister is a disgrace," said Emery as he was loaded into a police car, flashing the peace sign.

As he was taken away, smiling and waving, people on the street cheered, saying, "Free Marc Emery!"

Nine others were also arrested; police say they were not customers. In the moments prior to that raid, Emery had instructed customers to leave immediately.

They also seized 18 kilograms (40 lbs.) of marijuana and paraphernalia for drug trafficking.

Police say the ten people arrested are being questioned Friday evening and could face charges of distributing an illegal substance.

The raids came as many braved the cold, some waiting hours in line, for a chance to buy some pot.

“I'm glad to be here. It's a historical moment,” said one customer.

Cannabis Culture, part of the franchise owned by noted pot activists Marc and Jodie Emery, opened Thursday morning, and began selling weed in the afternoon. Lineups lasted clear until closing time and continued Friday.

“The employees are so pleased. The response from the customer is much love, gratitude. People are saying they've been waiting forever for this. It feels safe and open. It's just the way that legalization should be,” said Cannabis Culture co-owner Jodie Emery.

There are a dozen other locations in the franchise in B.C. and Ontario, and all of them were raided by police soon after opening -- then temporarily closed, and once again re-opened following legal proceedings.

That prompted Jodie Emery to plead with police in Montreal not to raid their stores.

On Thursday Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he had "zero tolerance" for the stores selling illegal drugs, and that he had the support of many councillors and borough mayors, including Luc Ferrandez of Projet Montreal.

Some Plateau residents expressed that they were unhappy with the store’s opening.

“If I went out there with a sign that said 'selling joints for $5’ would I be arrested? Pretty sure I'd be arrested. What is the difference?” said one person who preferred to remain anonymous.

Two locations slated to open, including one on Queen Mary Rd. didn’t get the chance due to permit problems.

“And while there's no such thing as a municipal marijuana permit, no matter what you do you need a municipal permit to renovate and change a structure,” said city councillor Marvin Rotrand.

Others who work near the stores said they felt they were a boost for business.

“When you see people standing in line with -25 degrees, I think it's a good thing for St. Laurent,” said Arthur Degand, who works near that location. “It's going to bring business and people here I guess.”

Plateau resident Simon Degand said it’s a step toward legalization.

“I didn't come to buy drugs. I came to see everybody standing in line talking about this change,” he said.

Current laws stand

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Montreal, said that acting as if marijuana was legal was premature.

"Until we've changed the law, the current laws exist and apply," said Trudeau.

Following the raids, Coderre tweeted that it was "more useful to put your energies on the legislative process for marijuana legalization than an unnecessary stunt. Respect the law."

The federal government has promised to legalize marijuana and this week a task force provided its recommendations on how to do so.

"We will get this done properly and responsibly because that is what Canadians expect us to do," said Trudeau.

The federal government is expected to table legislation in the spring to allow marijuana to be sold to adults.

With files from The Canadian Press


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