Vancouver’s self-proclaimed Prince and Princess of Pot have been charged in Toronto with multiple counts of trafficking, possession, and possession of proceeds of crime.
The charges come as Vancouver Police raid their Cannabis Culture store in Downtown Vancouver, as a part of a Toronto investigation that began yesterday afternoon when Marc and Jodie Emery were arrested at Pearson International Airport.
Police have entered the West Hastings Street location, and were seen this morning putting paper up over the windows.
In an email, Vancouver Police said it is carrying out search warrants in the city to help Toronto police with an investigation, referring all questions to that force.
BC’s Public Safety Minister Mike Morris says he hasn’t spoken to his federal counterparts or the Vancouver Police about today’s raid in Vancouver or the arrests in Ontario.
“I don’t get involved in the day to day operations of the police forces in BC but as long as they are enforcing the law at their discretion with the resources that they have available to them, then that is up to them.”
Morris says he is concerned situations like this could lead to confusion for the public about what is legal and what is not.
He says the sooner the federal government comes out with legislation the better.
Raids have also been reported in Ottawa, Hamilton, and Toronto.
Toronto Police Spokesperson Mark Pugash tells CKNW the VPD were brought in to assist with “Project Gator.”
“This is a Toronto project pure and simple, and we have created it and put it together. Vancouver assisted with the execution of two warrants,” he says.
“Because the locations and people are not restricted to one jurisdiction. And so you have to go where the people are, and where the outlets are.”
Pugash says Toronto police won’t be confirming charges for another couple of hours.
Vancouver Police have maintained an informal policy to avoid pot shop raids unless there are specific complaints of illegal activity, particularly involving selling to minors.
Vancouver City Councillor Melissa De Genova has long called for police to act on illegal pot shops based on existing by-laws, but says she doesn’t know why they acted today.
“I would expect that they would be going out to all of the illegal marijuana dispensaries and shutting them down one by one, so I think that we’ll have to wait and see as to what the reasoning of the Vancouver police department is.”
Cannabis Culture employee Karina Smeds who was scheduled to work later today says it’s unfair.
“We haven’t caused harm to one person here, there’s never fights or anything. At the multiple bars across the streets, they constantly have sirens, ambulances, fights, blood, yelling. And here we are on the other side of the street with 20 plus years of business and never has any of that kind of stuff happened in here.”
Meanwhile, The Prince and Princess of Pot remain in a Toronto jail, and along with three other people are now both facing a slew of charges.
Those charges include Conspiracy to commit an indictible offence, multiple counts of Schedule II trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of proceeds of crime.
Marc and Jodie Emery both made an appearance at what had initially been scheduled as a bail hearing, only to have the decision pushed to 7 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow, as full charge information had not yet been released.
Marc Emery has just arrived in court. Federal Crown requesting matter be put over to tomorrow since more information coming re charges— Catherine McDonald (@cmcdonaldglobal) March 9, 2017
Their lawyer Kirk Tousaw says the pair were arrested last night after getting out of an Uber at Pearson International Airport.
“They’re doing as well as can be expected for people that are being locked in cages without having done harm to a single human being.”
“[I] can’t speak about our conversations because of privilege though I can say that they are in good spirits and they’re prepared to fight these charges to the best of their ability.”
According to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada’s website, the penalty for Schedule II trafficking has a mandatory minimum penalty of between one and two years.
The Emerys were en route to Spain for a cannabis expo.
The pair owns the Cannabis Culture brand, which includes a chain of about 20 marijuana shops and dispensaries across Canada.
Marc Emery was most recently arrested in Montreal back in December, shortly after Cannabis Culture opened six shops in that city offering to sell marijuana to recreational users older than 19, regardless of medical documentation.
He famously served five years in a U.S. prison after being extradited for selling pot seeds by mail.
With files from Canadian Press & Liza Yuzda