Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Raided medical marijuana dispensary linked to Hells Angels - Update IV

Health Canada has sent out letters to a handful of marijuana dispensaries for advertising the sale of pot and called on them to immediately suspend all activities.

The 13 targeted dispensaries include at least one operation each in Vancouver and Victoria, and another in Saskatchewan, according to B.C. Compassion Club Society spokeswoman Jamie Shaw, who is also the president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.

Rona Ambrose
“Health Canada will attempt to work co-operatively with all parties involved to encourage compliance. If continued non-compliance is identified, the department may refer the case to law enforcement agencies for appropriate action,” said an email from Health Canada spokesman Patrick Gaebel. Health Minister Rona Ambrose reiterated the federal government’s position that the shops are illegal, adding: “We expect the police to enforce the law.”

Warning Letter

When the City of Vancouver sparked the idea of regulating pot shops, an April 21 staff report said there were 80 operating without a business licence. Four months later, it says it received 176 applications under the controversial Medical Marijuana-Related Use bylaw. Sixty-nine are so-called “compassion clubs” that would pay $1,000 each for a licence, while the rest are businesses that would be charged $30,000 each if approved.

“It’s not a surprise, it’s a cash cow,” said NPA Coun. George Affleck. “It’s an opportunity to sell illegal drugs in our city, through legitimate retail space. It’s attracting a lot of interest.”
Health Canada has licensed 26 producers across Canada, including six in B.C., under its Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations to ship small quantities of dried marijuana directly to patients who are prescribed marijuana for medical purposes by a physician or nurse practitioner. Last January, CBC’s Fifth Estate aired a documentary that showed how simple it is to buy pot in Vancouver. A naturopath prescribed marijuana to reporter Mark Kelley for stress relief during a consultation that lasted just over a minute. Kelley was in a dispensary, but the naturopath was somewhere else on Skype.
Vancouver dispensaries that have been raided by police for allegedly selling cannabis to teens or being linked to gangs such as the Hells Angels have a slim chance of securing approval under the city’s new licensing regime, says a councillor who was one of the main architects of the new pot-shop rules.

Brian Oldham, sergeant-at-arms for the Kelowna Hells Angels

Expensive vehicles and a speedboat were parked in the side yard of the Limelife Society pot dispensary.
Councillor Kerry Jang, who oversees the marijuana file for the governing Vision Vancouver party, said city staff will seek input from the Vancouver Police Department’s drug squad when reviewing applications under the new licensing system, which was approved in June.
Owners of six shops that have reopened after being raided in recent years will likely have a hard time getting a licence.

Brian Oldham
Several of the people involved in the operation of the Rupert Street Limelife dispensary are connected with Brian Oldham, 48, a full-patch member of the Kelowna chapter of the Hells Angels. They include his girlfriend, Shawna Bates, 24.


David Giles
Undercover officers also identified Shane Schuhart, 31, as a Hells Angels associate who identified himself as a property representative for another Limelife Society dispensary on Granville Street. In 2012 Oldham was charged in connection with a major cocaine trafficking operation that snared seven others, including Hells Angels Kelowna vice-president David Giles.

In the warrant, police say the Rupert Street Limelife dispensary appeared to be run by Ricky Jack Radu, 52, and his girlfriend, Thi Kieu Trinh Vu, 42, who live in the upstairs suite. Police say Radu, who has convictions or charges for a variety of trafficking or assault offences, is an associate of Oldham.
An associate of the Hells Angels is listed as the operator of an East Vancouver medical dispensary, according to a search warrant executed in a raid on the business.

The court document claims the Pitt Meadows resident, who has not been charged in association with the investigation, shows up in City of Vancouver records associated with the Limelife Society at 4866 Rupert St.

Robert Clarke, 32 runs the operation.
"He is a known Hells Angel associate and is 'Of Interest' in five separate gang intel files since 2010," the warrant states.

According to the court document, police started investigating after observing "new and high end" vehicles in the parking lot. "I believe these vehicles to be associated to the Hells Angels based on common Hells Angels insignia," wrote Const. Brian Hobbs.
Clarke, 32, said he's the sole owner of four Limelife Society stores in Vancouver. He also owns a dispensary in Nanaimo, where he watched the raid unfold on a live security camera feed.



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Damiano Di Popolo