The owner of a Halifax marijuana dispensary says the province’s recreational pot policy announced Thursday will drive more people to the black market.
But Chris Enns said he doesn’t fear that widespread access to pot next July will threaten his business.
“I’ve had no less than half a dozen individuals call me this morning literally in tears, worried I was going to shut down or be shut down by these new regulations and that they wouldn’t have a source for their medicine anymore,” said Enns, owner of Farm Assists Medical Cannabis Resource Centre, in an interview Thursday.
“I assured them that we will still continue to be open, that the charter under section 7 continues to provide for our right to provide them the medicine they need and that we look forward to continuing to help them going forward.”
Enns has battled possession and trafficking charges many times over the years, both at his current Gottingen Street location and a previous storefront in Porters Lake called Grow-Op Shop.
The Crown recently dropped a seven-count indictment related to three raids at the Gottingen Street dispensary in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Crown attorney Jill Hartlen told The Chronicle Herald that the decision to withdraw the charges came about because regulations governing medical marijuana access from the time of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 raids are no longer in place.
She also noted Enns is preparing to launch a challenge against marijuana regulations under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Enns questioned the province’s decision to sell recreational marijuana at selected liquor commission stores, likely at a price well above that in the black market, without taking advantage of the knowledge and expertise of sellers like him.
“Those individuals I’ve talked to that are more a part of the black market, if we want to use that slang term, I think are very encouraged by the announcement today,” he said.
“They see nothing but opportunity moving forward. I don’t think Nova Scotians are going to be willing to pay double the price for their cannabis from the liquor store outlets.”
The provincial Department of Justice said the new recreational pot regulations won’t change enforcement policies.
“Anyone selling cannabis to the public in a storefront is breaking the law,” spokesman Andrew Preeper said in an email Thursday.
“These stores are illegal now and will remain illegal in Nova Scotia after July 1, 2018. Health Canada regulates medical marijuana and retail outlets are not part of that regime.
“Illegal cannabis storefronts are a matter for police.”