Police had eyes on the comings-and-goings at the Green Way Wellness Centre in Bridgewater for months and cited information from the town's planning department and details of search warrants executed in October 2017 at similar medical marijuana dispensaries in Kentville and Dartmouth as the rationale for wanting to search the operation on the Main Street of the South Shore.
A justice of the peace signed the 11-page Information to Obtain (ITO) document December 20, 2017. Police executed the search warrant on the same date, probing Green Way's High Street commercial building and documented more than 100 items seized during the examination.
In addition to taking custody of marijuana derivatives such as shatter and hash, law enforcement seized notebooks, a receipt book and sales record ledger, client files, a laptop computer and cell phones. Police documented finding 37 grams of "marijuana joints in spice racks," 150 mg of THC-infused dog treats, rolling papers, pipes and hundreds of grams of marijuana, among other items, such as THC-infused rice crispy squares, chocolate and gummy candy.
Two Lunenburg County residents and one Halifax County man were arraigned on drug charges in Bridgewater provincial court recently in connection with the Green Way search. Their cases are proceeding through the legal system.
Richard Joseph John Todd, 45, of Lawrencetown, Wendy Lee Tanya Hubley, 34, of Wileville and Geoffrey James MacDonald, 42, of Hebbville are each charged with trafficking cannabis marijuana, cannabis resin, cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol between December 8 and 20 of last year and possessing the same substances on December 20 for the purpose of trafficking.
In January, Green Way was fined $4,100 under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) for unlawfully allowing a commercial use at its former 535 King Street, Bridgewater location without obtaining a development permit from the town. Todd, the recognized agent of the Green Way business, was also charged with the same offence under the MGA, but the allegation against him was dismissed following the Green Way guilty plea.
A late night fire in October destroyed a pair of buildings, including 535 King Street. Green Way subsequently moved to High Street.
Search warrant records related to the drug charges show plain clothes police officers were watching the Bridgewater Green Way business on at least three occasions in the months leading up to the raid. They documented how many people came and left the business during specific time frames.
"As the 2018 date for the promised legalization of cannabis by the federal government approaches, we are seeing entrepreneurs opening cannabis dispensaries in Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada," writes Cst. Derek Childs, a Bridgewater Police Service officer and member of the South Shore Integrated Street Crime Enforcement Unit, in the ITO document.
"The sole purpose of these cannabis dispensaries is to sell cannabis products to 'medical patients. These medical cannabis dispensaries are not legal and not authorized by Health Canada."
A day after the police search, LighthouseNOW received an email from a "Geoff MacDonald" who identified himself as a dispensary volunteer. He indicated Green Way was a strict operation that required medical documentation from prospective clients.
"I took a risk to help others, who, like myself, are authorized to possess cannabis and now face charges," he wrote. "You should report on those who have made miraculous improvements to mobility, health and quality of life from this medicine.
"It made me feel great to help others benefit from my experience and help break their dependence on opiates ... and for my effort to help ... I am being turned into a criminal."