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New West take hard line on pot dispensaries

The New Westminster Police Department intends to remain tough on medical marijuana dispensaries after new laws take effect April 1.

Health Canada is introducing new rules to facilitate dispensaries, but the NWPD issued a release Friday saying they "will continue with business as usual in the face of the amended" laws.

Medical marijuana dispensaries will remain illegal in New Westminster after April 1, said the statement.

"Marijuana dispensaries are not granted business licences and therefore can be shut down for a variety of reasons," said the release. "Those employed at the dispensaries can be subject to criminal charges for the possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and for trafficking in marijuana."

The police pointed out they've taken action in the past and will do so again if the public is at risk or if they find out marijuana is being dispensed without a doctor's prescription.

"The New Westminster Police Department takes complaints by the public very seriously," said Chief Const. Dave Jones. "Many times, we are guided by our public and although we are not actively seeking out the dispensaries, if members of the public report any issues, we will take action which will include criminal enforcement."

Last summer, New Westminster police raided the NICE (New Innovations in Cannabis Education) Dispensary on 12th Street and its storefront was subsequently shut down. Operators Justin Cleveland, Matthew Lee and Kevin Lee were all charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, while the two Lees were also charged with trafficking in a controlled substance. Their next court appearance is scheduled for March 27 in New Westminster provincial court.

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