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RCMP raid unlicensed Cole Harbour cannabis dispensaries

From The CBC by Jack Julian December 23, 2020

Nine people were arrested Wednesday after the RCMP raided five unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in the Halifax area.

Police say they seized a “significant quantity” of cannabis, cannabis products and cash from the dispensaries on Caldwell Road in Cole Harbour.

The businesses operated on land that is part of the Millbrook First Nation. 

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Lisa Croteau said the businesses had previously refused to voluntarily cease operations. 

“Nova Scotia RCMP is continuing to employ a measured approach, which includes consultation with the stakeholders, to address the unlicensed sale of cannabis in the community,” Croteau said in an emailed statement. 

“Increasing complaints and concerns about the products being sold and the potential sale to youth prompted the police action.”

The nine individuals who were arrested have been charged under the federal Cannabis Act, said RCMP.

Nine people were arrested under the federal Cannabis Act. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade declined to comment to CBC News, but he sent copies of letters regarding the unlicensed dispensaries. 

On July 27, 2020, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage MLA Barbara Adams wrote the Nova Scotia Justice Department and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs asking about the status of the cannabis businesses. 

“I have had a number of complaints over the past year and a half from concerned constituents in the Cole Harbour area about the large signed advertising and private sale of cannabis by retailers on Caldwell Road,” she wrote. 

In his reply on Aug. 19, Justice Minister Mark Furey said the “establishment of illegal cannabis retailers causes concerns.”

“These dispensaries operate outside of the law, and are therefore a matter for police,” Furey wrote.

At the same time, Furey said provincial officials had met with Mi’kmaw leaders to discuss the issue, though those talks were interrupted by COVID-19. 

“We remain committed to having discussions with our Indigenous leaders regarding First Nations involvement in the cannabis sector,” he wrote.

The provincial Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon. 

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