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Video of attempted B.C. cannabis shop robbery shows armed thief leaving empty-handed

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“When someone has a gun that is really scary, you have no idea if it is a real gun or a replica or a starter pistol or a bb gun”

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A B.C. cannabis store is calling on the government to rethink mandatory window coverings after being targeted in a robbery.

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Vancouver-based Kingsway Cannabis posted security footage on Twitter of the attempted robbery, which shows the individual brandishing what appears to be a gun.

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Dressed in dark clothing, with a baseball cap, sunglasses and face covering, the individual points the weapon at a store employee before fumbling with the cash register unsuccessfully. The individual, who remains at large, then exits the store.

Kingsway Cannabis owner Charles Variboff told Global News that it’s the first time the shop has been targeted.

“When someone has a gun that is really scary, you have no idea if it is a real gun or a replica or a starter pistol or a bb gun,” Variboff said.

On Twitter, Kingsway Cannabis called on the government to “rethink the mandatory window frosting.”

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Under the federal Cannabis Act, cannabis stores are prohibited from displaying any cannabis-related products or materials where they might be visible to a young person. The use of window coverings and opaque glass has become widespread to stay within the rules, but it has also provided effective cover for thieves.

In June 2020, B.C. became the first province in Canada to remove the requirement that cannabis retail stores “be enclosed by non-transparent walls.” Stores are still required to configure their layouts in such a way that it prevents minors from being exposed to cannabis products from street level.

Alberta followed suit last August when the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) issued a memo to retailers stating they could ditch the window coverings. Ontario has yet to issue a similar ruling.

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“When you create opportunity, you have to expect something is going to happen,” Elisa Keay, who owns K’s Pot Shop, told The Toronto Sun last April. “If someone were to close that door and lock it, nobody from the outside would know anything untoward that’s going on in here.”

Vancouver police are encouraging anyone who might have information about the attempted robbery to come forward.

“Whether this was a real gun or a fake gun, we don’t know. That’s something we’re investigating,” a member of the Vancouver Police Department told CTV Vancouver. “Nonetheless, this is terrifying for everyone involved. Whether this is a cannabis store or a candy shop, it’s terrifying no matter where it happens.”

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