RCMP in the South Okanagan “moving forward” on shutting down pot shops

The South Okanagan’s top cop said police are working towards shutting down illegal pot shops

Complaints from residents are what is driving pot shop businesses to go up in smoke, the South Okanagan’s top cop said Thursday.

After questions surfaced at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen meeting about whether or not RCMP are not shutting down pot stores because of pending legalization, Ted De Jager, detachment commander for the region, said officers have their eyes on illegally operating marijuana dispensaries and are moving forward to shut them down.

“Timing of the legalization doesn’t really have an effect on the police’s view of those … it really has a lot to do on the complaints we get to target those areas and how active they are,” he said in response to a question about an illegal pot shop that opened in Okanagan Falls earlier this winter.

RELATED: Penticton pot store moved to Okanagan Falls

Bill Newell, CAO for the RDOS followed up the line of questioning by adding, “(It) would leave one to ask why we have not noticed the one on the main street of Okanagan Falls.”

“And to that I would say, ‘yes I have,’” De Jager said. “And again I’m not being cryptic here or not but if I was operating an illegal dispensary in this day and age I would be looking at a different business model, I think the gentleman in Cawston can attest to that so we are moving forward on that.”

In those comments, De Jager was referring to a recent search warrant executed at the Amber Light Compassion Society in Cawston. Although the owner has not been formally charged yet, the business remains closed.

RELATED: Marijuana dispensary raided in Cawston

De Jager said currently the only legal way to obtain medical marijuana is through the mail and at this point new legislation does not change those parameters.

“So all of these dispensaries that are dispensing any medical product, whether that’s smoked, edibles or derivatives, are illegal. Under the new system they won’t be able to use the term dispensary, pharmacy or apothecary. It will be very much focused on, it will only be focused on, recreational use so the medical side doesn’t, isn’t covered, under the new legislation, at least at this point, so those dispensaries like the one in Okanagan Falls are illegal and will be targeted as such.”

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