Winnipeg head shops being pressured to close by police: Owners
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The owner of a novelty store with pipes, bongs and rolling papers on its shelves is looking for answers from police after he was arrested in his shop last week.
Hemp Haven owner, Jeremy Loewen, said he follows the rules set out for shops like his—he has a tobacco and business licence, pays his taxes, and most importantly never knowingly sells his wares for use with illegal drugs—but thinks his arrest may be part of a wider effort to intimidate similar city shops into shutting their doors.
“If they would have came to me with papers and said cease and desist, then OK, no problem,” said Loewen, who told Metro he was arrested after an undercover officer bought a water pipe from an employee at his store Jan. 27. “Tell me what I can and cannot do… I don’t want to go to jail.”
Loewen said he has a strict policy that employees don’t talk about illegal drugs, and won’t sell to anyone who say that’s why they’re in the shop.
Loewen also said two plain-clothes officers visited his store shortly after police raids forced another local head shop to temporarily shut last year, warning him to close too.
“I tried contacting them to find out what I can and cannot sell and I got no reply,” said Loewen, who also sells t-shirts, ashtrays, posters and jewellery at his shop. “I’ve been here for 12 years and it’s never been a problem.”
Loewen said he knows of at least one other similar arrest.
The owner of another head shop, who asked not to be identified, confirmed he closed his store recently due to what he called police “breathing down my neck.”
Winnipeg police weren’t able to provide comment Tuesday.
Loewen is charged with possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime, and selling instruments for drug use. His shop has remained closed since his arrest.
-With files from Meg Crane