An angry crowd hurled verbal abuse at the RCMP Tuesday as officers arrested the owner of the city’s only marijuana compassion club.
Carl Anderson was dragged away by two officers around 1:30 p.m., after he refused to move away from the door of his store at 405 Tranquille Rd. Anderson was sitting calmly on the ground with his back against the door at the time.
As Anderson sat outside, members of the Kamloops RCMP’s drug section were inside the store, boxing up marijuana and other exhibits seized as part of the court-approved raid. Officers executed search warrants at the store around 10:30 a.m.
Anderson didn’t move when told by police he must move, and did nothing to aid or resist when put under arrest for obstruction. Two Mounties pulled the six-foot six-inch man by the scruff of his jacket — his arms were handcuffed behind him — to a waiting police car, dragging him all the way. He was taken to the RCMP cells.
As police pulled Anderson away, a crowd of about 20 people — most of them customers of Anderson’s store — yelled angry profanities denouncing the RCMP’s actions. Many filmed or photographed the scene with cell phones.
A second woman was arrested a few minutes after Anderson was arrested after she tried to block an RCMP vehicle as it approached the front of the store. The crowd yelled out that the woman had been hit by the police SUV. She showed no sign of injury and walked to a police vehicle.
Approached by The Daily News shortly before his arrest, Anderson refused to comment on the situation or the RCMP’s actions.
Police seized business records, computers, and drugs. The drugs included more than three pounds of dry marijuana, marijuana oil, hash, baked goods containing marijuana product and marijuana lemonade and ice tea in pre-packaged bottles, RCMP said in a press release.
Also on the premises, police found about 50 marijuana plants growing under fluorescent lighting in a sophisticated laboratory room used to process marijuana from a vegetative state into hash and hash oil. The plants were in an early growth stage and varied in size from seedlings to approximately four inches in height.
Earlier in the day, shortly after the RCMP arrived, several customers milled around the store’s front doors and questioned what was going on.
Wesley Jenkins became agitated as he faced the prospect of seeing the outlet where he buys his medical marijuana closed, even for a short while. He is licensed by Health Canada to possess marijuana.
“It means I have to go to the street and get my weed, I don’t want to buy (it) from the underworld. I remember getting marijuana laced with crystal meth,” he said. “We need our medication.”
Gary Ham also expressed concerns about the happenings inside the store, noting he needs marijuana for a variety of ailments.
“I am with Carl on this. We are all here for Carl,” he said.
Anderson opened the doors to his compassion club earlier this year. Inside the small storefront, Anderson sold a variety of strains of marijuana for about $175 an ounce, only to those with a Health Canada permit. Anderson also tested his products on site, to ensure THC levels and organic purity.
The RCMP have consistently maintained their view Anderson’s operation violates Canada’s drug laws, noting the man has no authority to sell drugs to others, despite his seemingly good intentions.
Supt. Yves Lacasse said police had little choice but to raid the shop, as Anderson openly did business in the centre of the North Shore’s business district.
“It was a gathering of intelligence over a period of time. We knew at some point actions would be taken,” he said. “We do believe what he is doing is wrong, is criminal, is trafficking drugs.”
Lacasse said the investigators will review the materials and exhibits seized Tuesday. Charges of possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking are pending against the owner.
“What we saw was a business operation. Maybe Carl was just trying to make a point. He might have been trying to push the issue and fight a cause. If that is what he is trying to do, he is going about it the wrong way.”
Lacasse said he has sympathy for those who have a medical permit to use marijuana, but urged them to find legal sources of the drug.
“I am sympathetic, some of these people do need this to live without pain,” he said. “We understand that here. But I think Carl is trying to use this as an avenue to advance his cause.”
Bob Hughes, the executive director of the nearby Ask Wellness Centre, said many of his centre’s clients were customers at the compassion club. He felt it provided necessary service.
“You have physicians who prescribe this, it is a given. It should be accepted that people use this for medical purposes. If the medical community endorses it, what’s the problem?” he said.
Hughes said the fact this afternoon’s search and arrest turned nasty is “a testament to the great divide between the laws of cannabis and the reality of it.”
“The whole concept of people being able to access pure medical grade marijuana . . . is something that should be endorsed.”
Meanwhile, Rod Harris, one of the shop’s regular customers, wonders where he will get his drugs now that Anderson’s shop is closed.
“I have nowhere to buy my medicine from,” he said. “It would be nice to have a (local) place to buy it.”
Anderson remained in police custody late in the day Tuesday. Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said police intended to release Anderson but it was unclear whether he would agree to conditions.