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Vancouver Crackdown: Cops Bust Open-Air Cannabis Market Outside Vancouver Art Gallery

January 23, 2018

Vancouver authorities’ laissez-faire attitude toward the city’s bustling grey-market cannabis scene has long been the stuff of legend. Whereas Toronto police execute regular raids and busts, Vancouver law enforcement has typically been happy to look the other way—a dynamic I saw in action at this month’s Lift Conference, where the stately plaza outside the Vancouver Convention Center was taken over by a half-dozen vendors offering cannabis flower, edibles, and served-on-the-spot dab hits with zero interference from police.

The Vancouver Police Department has announced the launch of Project Apprentice, which aims to curb the city’s most brazen cannabis-related offences.

But today is a new day. At a press briefing this morning, the Vancouver Police Department announced the launch of Project Apprentice, which aims to curb the city’s most brazen cannabis-related offences. The operation began with the arrest of four individuals accused of illegally selling marijuana in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

“We have been working with the city of Vancouver and monitoring the situation in the 800 block of Robson Street for several months now,” VPD Deputy Chief Constable Howard Chow said at the press conference. “Our response has been incremental. However, at each stage, the vendors have refused to cooperate, and concerns around public safety have increased. As such, we have had to escalate our response.”

In addition to arresting four people on 11 criminal charges, police also seized nine pounds of dried marijuana flower, 23 pounds of edibles, and over $4,000 in cash.

Leafly List: The Top Cannabis Dispensaries in British Columbia, Fall 2017

“This is the first phase of arrests as part of Project Apprentice, which is the culmination of considerable work by police on this issue over the past six weeks,” reads the VPD press release. “Investigators are anticipating more charges and more arrests as this project continues.”

For now, all of the first batch of arrestees have been released on the condition that they stay away from the 800 block of Robson Street. (This stipulation has already proven too much for one arrestee, who was re-arrested yesterday after returning to the site.) Stay tuned.

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Dave Schmader

Dave Schmader is the author of the book "Weed: The User's Guide." Follow him on Twitter @davidschmader

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