Marijuana dispensaries beef up security

Marijuana dispensaries beef up security

Tony Musfelt started shaking when he received a phone call from police last week.

  • Nov. 4, 2015 7:00 a.m.

— Pamela Roth

Tony Musfelt started shaking when he received a phone call from police last week, informing him that the medical marijuana dispensary he manages on Cook Street had been robbed.

“It took me half an hour to calm down before I could even go in,” said Musfelt. “My anxiety was through the roof.”

It was around 8:35 p.m. on Oct. 27 when police were called to the Ocean Grown Medical Dispensary in the 1700 block of Cook Street after two masked men brandishing firearms stormed the business. Nobody was injured, but the two employees working in the store were tied up by the thieves, who fled the scene once police arrived.

The business can’t talk about specific details about the crime, but said employees working that night were shaken by what they experienced. Measures are now being taken to increase security.

In the last three months, there have been three armed robberies at medical marijuana stores in Victoria. Police are investigating whether there is any connection. If the trend continues, police may look at cracking down on the illegal businesses operating throughout the city.

“The police will look at trends in the future and if the trends continue, then maybe we will go down the road with enforcement,” said Victoria police Const. Matt Rutherford. “The problem is it’s such a hot political issue.”

Medical marijuana dispensaries have been popping up throughout B.C., prompting communities to call for local authorities to regulate them.

Last month, Esquimalt council voted to deny all applications for business licenses pertaining to dispensaries in the township following an earlier inquiry from someone wanting to establish a business there.

Officials with the town canvased other municipalities in the region, noting most have taken the position that the activity is illegal, therefore business licences will not be issued and anyone commencing operations will be forced to shut down.

The only exception in the region is the City of Victoria, which currently has approximately 20 medical marijuana dispensaries. The city is now trying to set up a process to regulate the industry so it won’t be a free-for-all.

When it comes to policing, officers in Victoria have had ongoing conversations with dispensary operators, reminding them that there is always a risk the businesses could be enforced.

“If we went in and tried to shut these places down, is this going to result in criminal charges? That’s not clear. That can change any minute…It really is a complex issue where people are operating in a grey area,” said Victoria police spokesperson Bowen Osoko. “Our resources are only so big and we apply those resources based on the public interest.”

According to Dieter MacPherson, executive director of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, one of the major risks for medical marijuana dispensaries is that they are an all-cash business.

The city licencing dispensaries will go a long way towards allowing the businesses to access traditional services, such as banking, he added, and if the federal government follows through with legalizing marijuana it will reduce the market value over time, removing the temptation for thieves.

“This is not unique to the City of Victoria. Obviously we’re dealing with a high value product and an all-cash business so there will always be a concern that they are targeted,” said MacPherson. “Our hope is businesses will adopt best practices for security and the city in its licencing program will include security standards that should be applied across the industry.”

Last month, a man armed with a weapon entered the Weeds Social Club in the 1600 block of Douglas Street and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and drugs. In late July, a man armed with a gun and knife stole cash and drugs from Farmacy, located at 3055 Scott St.

Anyone with information is asked to call 250-995-7654.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Supporter Gordy Dodd cheers on HeroWork Victoria executive director Trevor Botkin, who will be in a lift for 36 hours beside Dodd’s Furniture and Mattress on April 16 and 17 to raise funds for the organization’s next project, a makeover of the Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre on Johnson Street. (Courtesy HeroWork Victoria)
HeroWork Victoria tackles makeover of Salvation Army rehab centre

Executive director to spend 36 hours living in a lift as fundraiser

Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses. (Black Press Media files)
Island Health issues overdose advisory for Greater Victoria

The advisory directs bystanders to an overdose to call 911 and administer naloxone

Grandmothers to Grandmothers is a campaign that connects Canadian grandmothers with grandmothers in Africa who are caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Here, they are in Kakuto, Uganda in 2018. (Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar photo)
Greater Victoria and African grandmothers celebrate solidarity with virtual concert

Grandmothers to Grandmothers supports women in Africa caring for children orphaned by AIDS

West Shore RCMP is seeking information about a collision involving a car and a bicycle on Six Mile Road, near the Island Highway, at 11:30 a.m. on April 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP seeks information about collision between bike, car

Collision occured on Six Mile Road on April 7 and a bystander got the blue car’s plate number

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Driver who crashed into Uptown Walmart likely suffering mental health crisis, police say

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Most Read