Following an attempted robbery at gunpoint Monday night, a Vancouver cannabis business owner is calling out the government's frosted window policy for putting his employees at risk.
Around 8 p.m. on March 13, a man entered Kingsway Cannabis and before the door was finished closing behind him pulled out a gun and pointed it at the woman behind the cash register.
The woman immediately fled and locked herself in the secure back room according to the owner, Chuck Varabioff. "She couldn't have handled it any better," he tells V.I.A. over the phone.
The man attempted to get behind the counter but wasn't able to. He then tried to get into the register from in front of the counter but failed and subsequently fled, "all in a matter of 10 seconds," says Varabioff.
Varabioff was at home when the incident occurred but received a phone call from his staff member asking for guidance because the man didn't make it away with anything and they didn't know what to do.
Varabioff immediately called 911 and headed for the store but says that police beat him there (they flew past him on Boundary Road, he says).
While everyone is okay and there was no damage done to the store or goods stolen, Varabioff says "the real disturbing thing" is that the man knew he was behind the protection of the frosted windows.
He explains that the problem with the frosted windows is that you have no idea what you're walking into and no one from the street knows you might be in danger. "I have to provide a safe environment for my employees but because of the goddamn regulations I'm unable to do that for fear of losing my cannabis license," he says, frustrated.
Varabioff thinks it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt as a result of the rule. "A customer could have walked head first into the scene," he says. "It was enough to scare the hell out of me, my staff, and the police."
Indeed, a couple can be seen exiting the store seconds before the man walked in with the gun. A situation that Varabioff fears could have ended very differently.
Varabioff says the frosted glass is in place to "protect the children" which he believes is redundant since the packaging is already mandated to be made unappealing to kids at a grower level; something he brought up to Vancouver police at the scene.
Cnst. Tania Visintin says the incident remains under investigation.