Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Vancouver’s police chief says while the department is well-aware of how opioids are taking a toll on the city’s streets, officers will always step in when people are “blatantly breaking the law.”

The statement, made Wednesday at the police headquarters downtown, comes after a number of advocates were quick to call out the agency for seizing products from a marijuana stand at the Downtown Eastside Market last week.

“The VPD is very aware of the terrible consequences of the opioid crisis, and we continue to support evidence-based harm-reduction initiatives,” Chief Adam Palmer said in a statement.

“We are a very fair, progressive, and open-minded police agency, and we were the first to call for ‘treatment on demand’ in 2015. We will continue to support our partners in the health and addictions community to save lives in our city. We will also enforce the trafficking laws of Canada as necessary when people are blatantly breaking the law.”

WATCH: Police raid of marijuana stand targeted those struggling with substance use, advocate says

Overdose Prevention Society founder Sarah Blyth told Black Press Media Friday that the cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program through High Hopes, a harm-reduction alternative.

Many were quick to question the move by police – including former health minister Terry Lake, who held his position during the worst year of overdose deaths in B.C.’s history. The B.C. Centre on Substance Use said the move made little sense.

Police say that the day before Friday’s seizure, officers conducting routine patrols in the Downtown Eastside located a display of cannabis products, in plain view, at a vendor’s table in the public market at 62 East Hastings Street.

The items were clearly marked for sale, police said, and officers spoke with the market’s executive director who told them the owner ignored requests to leave.

A man responsible for the display, who said it was for medicinal use, was issued a warning by police and directed the man to pack up his things.

But the next day, police said the same display was out again in plain view, including a number of pre-packaged and loose cannabis products, pill capsules, vaping products, and two bottles of an unknown white powder.

“No one would claim responsibility for the products,” police said, and the items seized included:

  • 50 Cannabidiol pills – marked $5.00 per capsule
  • 50 THC pills – marked $5.00 each
  • seven marijuana cigarettes (6.75 grams) labelled “Super Joints Hash + Indicia”
  • 18 marijuana cigarettes 12.23 grams labelled “Sativa $3.00 each or 4 for $10.00”
  • 17 marijuana cigarettes (13.07 grams) labelled “Indicia 3.00 each or 4 for $10.00”
  • one container of THC lotion (50.17 grams) labelled “Buddha”
  • five THC vapour refills (100.79 grams) ranging from 1300 mgs at $25.00 to 300 mgs for $10.00 with names of “Green Crack,” “Blueberry Kush,” and “Blueberry CBD C02 Oil”
  • hash ( 5.11 grams)
  • bud marijuana (5.89 grams)
  • unknown powder from two plastic bottles (46.90 grams)
  • one large display case
  • one vape pen $10.00

Police said the videos shared on social media were mis-characterized as a raid, and only “show only a small portion of what occurred and none of the previous informal attempts to resolve this issue.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

VIDEO: Saanich police tackle man who refused to move off Trans-Canada Highway

At this point, it is unclear why the man refused to move

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

Crime stats show a shift in Oak Bay during COVID-19

Thefts from automobiles, marinas up this spring

Suspected thief drops backpack of stolen goods and runs

Oak Bay Police use K9 for suspicious male

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

CVRD testing Shawnigan water after complaints of metallic taste, odour

“This type of problem has come up a number of times in summers in the past”

COVID-19 cases next to nil on Vancouver Island

Only one COVID-19 patient being treated at Island Health’s hospitals

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

For the record

A correction to the May 20 Rickter Scale

Most Read