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Undercover raid in New Brunswick uncovers 14 illegal pot shops

Aug 29, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

This post is presented by our media partner The Growth Op
View the original article here.

Most stores identified in Saint John raid closed following investigation

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Thirteen of 14 cannabis dispensaries found to be operating illegally in Saint John, N.B., a community of about 70,000, late last year have reportedly closed their doors, but one remains open pending ongoing court proceedings.

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An undercover operation involving members of the Saint John Police (SJP), Kennebecasis Regional Police and the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety began targeting the illegal sale of weed from the pot shops in December 2021, notes an SJP statement issued late last week.

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  1. Seizure includes 5.5 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 0.5 kilograms of cocaine, multiple restricted firearms and a significant sum of cash. /

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  2. Image for representation. One of the men was initially arrested, but later released. /

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  3. The province previously put out its feelers to see if any private companies wanted to take over cannabis retail in the province, but the shopping around came to an end earlier this year. /

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Although it is legal for New Brunswickers 19 and older to purchase, possess, cultivate and consume cannabis in the province, “the only legal place to purchase cannabis will be through Cannabis NB, a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation,” the province reports.

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“Once undercover operators established the illegal sale of cannabis under the Cannabis Control Act, property owners were notified that the unlawful activity must cease,” the police statement notes. Under the Civil Forfeiture Act, “real property may be forfeited if the court determines that it benefits from proceeds of unlawful activity or is an instrument of unlawful activity,” it adds.

The SJP began targeting landlords and property owners under the Act three years ago in a bid to help reduce the number of illegal pot shops operating in the province.

It was reported in 2019 that multiple landlords had received letters informing them that their properties are being used as an “instrument of unlawful activity” and giving them a chance to comply with provincial law or face property seizure.

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SJP notes in its recent statement one storefront identified during the undercover operation has remained open and is the subject of “ongoing court proceedings.”

According to PiPa News, the police service has noted it will not be releasing the names of the dispensaries or details about any legal proceedings. Police have successfully closed some dispensaries, but others have remained opened in different locations, the publication reports.

SJP notes in its post that joint efforts to investigate cannabis sales from illicit dispensaries is continuing.

The Saint John incident is certainly not the first time forfeiture has been on the table following the discovery of illegal cannabis operations.

In 2019, Ottawa police warned landlords that all or part of their properties could be subject to civil or criminal forfeiture after partial forfeiture was ordered for a real estate agent who had rented property to two illegal stores, per the Ottawa Citizen.

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In a case last year involving a Windsor, Ont. pot activist who was found guilty of running a business that illegally and openly sold cannabis, the Crown sought a fine of $20,000 and forfeiture of everything, including cash, seized during related raids.

At that time, the Crown argued forfeiture was necessary to deter others. Ultimately, a judge agreed to a forfeiture order for more than $39,000 in cash and cannabis products that had been confiscated, according to the Windsor Star.

And just earlier this month, the Vancouver Sun reported a new lawsuit filed by the B.C.’s director of civil forfeiture alleges three websites selling illicit cannabis received e-transfers totalling more than $6.4 million over just over two years. The individuals operating the websites reportedly have no licences to produce or sell weed.

As of Aug. 8, “none of the defendants has filed a statement of defence, and none has been criminally charged,” reports Vancouver Sun. 

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