WeeMedical Dispensary Society tried to reopen its doors to serve Chilliwack — less than two weeks after it was raided and shut down.
The dispensary had tried to reopen Friday in an act of “civil disobedience,” according to an online post — despite the ‘no occupancy’ order.
“Out of respect to Chilliwack City Council and RCMP, WeeMedical Dispensary Society has remained closed for over a week since the unfortunate incident of April 5,” the post from last week said.
The volunteer answering the phones Friday at WeeMedical, who would only identify herself as Taryn, said they reopened because “everybody believes we are a good fit” for Chilliwack.
“Due to the unwavering support of the Chilliwack community and WeeMedical members across British Columbia, in an act of Civil Disobedience, WeeMedical has decided to open its doors once again,” reads the post.
But it didn’t last.
RCMP executed another search warrant Monday afternoon, with City of Chilliwack enforcement personnel on-site to issue bylaw offence notices.
The telltale orange ‘no occupancy’ sign was visible on the door by the end of the day.
All the WeeMedical signage had been stripped from the building.
They knew Friday it could be raided again.
“It is a possibility,” Taryn said.
“It’s been quiet today because no one knows we’re open.”
After the second raid on Monday, April 18, WeeMedical volunteers posted another online message, this time critical of the enforcement effort as “another unfortunate incident.”
“Volunteers were detained and harassed and private property and signage were destroyed and tampered with. It is sad that Chilliwack city officials seem to criminalize all of those who are associated with WeeMedical in a situation where there are no victims and only beneficiaries.”
The message implies that police also seized product.
“WeeMedical apologizes to all its members who may have had their purchased goods from the dispensary confiscated while showing their support and patronage,” read the update.” As in most cases of Civil Disobedience, we must sometimes retreat before we advance again.”
WeeMedical has said their aim is to have “a better understanding and co-operative relationship” with City of Chilliwack and enforcement officials.
RCMP raided the shop on Fifth Avenue 10 days ago, seizing illegal cannabis, as well as cash and store records. One person was taken into custody and later released, and city officials posted a ‘no occupancy’ notice.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz told The Progress last month that City of Chilliwack can’t work with WeeMedical because it’s an “illegal company,” operating in contravention of the city’s zoning and licensing bylaws, as well as federal laws.
“The ‘no occupancy’ order is still in effect,” she said.
She was not impressed with the effort to reopen.
“I am very disappointed. They have disrespected our community, the RCMP and the federal government.”
The society faces $1000 per day fines, while it was open March 18 to April 5. The building’s two owners were also fined.
Mayor Gaetz said they will continue to issue fines to WeeMedical if they have to, and are “exploring” their legal options.
“Should the federal government ever decide it should be legalized, we will work within the framework and legislation that they provide. But in the meantime we will continue to operate within the law.”
Medical marijuana dispensaries, like WeeMedical, have been been established in several cities, in anticipation of the laws being changed but they operate in a legal grey zone.