Vancouver police say officers weren’t conducting a raid when they seized cannabis products from a program that offers marijuana to heroin addicts on the city’s Downtown Eastside.
Police issued a news release Wednesday saying the operator of the High Hopes booth at the Hastings Street Market had been warned last Thursday that products on display were clearly marked for sale and packaged in a manner consistent with trafficking, an illegal activity not allowed at the market.
They say officers allowed the man, who told them the cannabis products were medicinal, to pack up and leave with no further action.
But police say they were forced to act the next day despite a hostile crowd when they found the same prepackaged and loose cannabis products, pill capsules, vaping products and two bottles of an unknown white powder.
Officers say the market’s executive director also told them the cannabis products were unwelcome in the market.
Chief Adam Palmer says Vancouver police support evidence-based harm-reduction initiatives to help deal with the opioid crisis but will also enforce the trafficking laws of Canada as necessary when people are blatantly breaking them.
“This was not a police ‘raid,’ as some have mischaracterized it. Our officers took a very fair and balanced approach to the situation by giving a warning the previous day, listening to the wishes of the market executive director, and not allowing the blatant trafficking of illegal substances in public spaces,” the police news release says.