Port Alberni RCMP arrested five individuals at the West Side Alternatives medical marijuana dispensary on Athol Street on Friday morning.
Police entered the Athol Street dispensary at 10:15 a.m. on Sept. 16 under the authority of a search warrant and arrested three adult men and two adult women. All five individuals were released until their court appearances scheduled for Dec. 21.
Police also searched a related property on Highmoor Road.
The investigation began in July 2016 and was led by the general investigation unit.
Police recommended charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking for all five individuals arrested.
The RCMP will also be seeking additional charges including a weapons-related charge and related drug production charges.
A sawed-off shotgun was also found on the Athol Street property.
According to City of Port Alberni planner Scott Smith, West Side Alternatives didn’t have a licence.
“They were denied a business licence because they were less than 1,000 metres away from WeeMedical,” said Smith.
Port Alberni became the second city in Canada (after Vancouver) to regulate storefront marijuana dispensaries in early 2016.
Regulations included remaining 1,000 metres away from other dispensaries, 300 metres away from schools, no minors on the premises and only being allowed in general service commercial, highway commercial and core business zones.
The City of Victoria has also taken steps to regulate storefront dispensaries and will consider final approval of those bylaws on Sept. 22, with business licence and rezoning applications to be accepted in October if the bylaws pass.
Storefront dispensaries currently remain illegal under federal laws, although legalizing and regulating marijuana was one of the Liberal’s campaign promises.
According to the CBC, Canada’s health minister told the United Nations that the Liberals will introduce legislation legalizing marijuana in the spring of 2017.