News / Ottawa

Cannabis Culture back in business on Bank Street

Several outlets in the dispensary chain, which is associated with prominent activists Marc and Jodi Emery, were targeted in raids across Canada last week

Taryn Morrison, an employee at Cannabis Culture in Ottawa, is seen on March 12, 2017, just days after Ottawa Police raided the store.

Dylan C. Robertson / For Metro

Taryn Morrison, an employee at Cannabis Culture in Ottawa, is seen on March 12, 2017, just days after Ottawa Police raided the store.

A new marijuana dispensary claims it has seen an uptick in business after Ottawa police raided its Bank St. storefront.

“I guess we don’t need to advertise,” Taryn Morrison quipped while measuring out a small bag of marijuana for a grinning customer. On the shelf next to him sat a green bucket asking for “bail money.”

Last Thursday, police raided Cannabis Culture locations across Canada, arresting five in Ottawa under a warrant and charging them with trafficking. It was the 12th Ottawa raid since November. The next morning, the fledgling franchise reopened.

Since Feb. 22, staff say, they have served 500 to 600 people daily, from grinning hipsters to old people seeking pain relief, with or without a prescription.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” Morrison said. “It’s always smiles.”

At the front counter, receptionist Leanne said pot is still controversial. (She’s gotten hateful comments online, so she wouldn’t give her surname.)

“We’re willing to put ourselves at risk, because this is something we believe in,” she said pausing when an RCMP cruiser rolled by. “We care about it, and it’s not some big corporate business.”

Over the course of a short conversation, Leanne checked 10 people’s identification, giving them numbers to wait until others leave. Many mention the fentanyl crisis, wondering why police don’t put their resources into the drug that’s killing people across the city.

“I don’t see why they would raid it. The government wants to make it legal,” customer Jeremy Cote said.

The government is expected to table legislation this spring, meaning legal pot could still be a year away.

“I just don’t know why it’s taking so long.”

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