HALIFAX — A Halifax cannabis dispensary has once again found itself the target of an alleged break-in followed by a police raid in what the store's owner said is becoming a pattern.
Officers responded to an alarm at Coastal Cannapy Dispensary on Agricola Street at around 2:40 a.m. on Monday, where they discovered the front door had been forced open, Halifax Regional Police said.
They said that while officers were investigating they found a large quantity of cannabis and drug paraphenalia inside the business.
A police spokesperson declined to comment further on the case, but a news release issued Monday evening said a search warrant was obtained and a "large quantity" of marijuana and cannabis-infused products were seized.
An emailed statement from Coastal Cannapy owner Andrew Laughlin said this is the fifth time the business has been raided by police.
"Over the past few weeks, and just again today, we have been in the public eye," the statement read. "We have been robbed and raided and now it's time we speak up to counter a narrative government is trying to create."
The incident comes only a few days after a similar incident. On May 16, police said they seized a large amount of cannabis and paraphenalia from the dispensary just a few hours after being called to investigate a break-in.
In his statement, Laughlin said the dispensary is being unfairly targeted.
"We are not an outlaw business operating in the shadows. We are an open, transparent public business that serves 300-500 customers on average daily," he said.
"We, like many businesses in this province, face regulations that do nothing but slow growth, all the while facing off with a government that is one of the least business friendly in Canada."
He said Nova Scotia's current model for marijuana retail and distribution — which will see twelve NSLC stores selling cannabis across the province — will not be enough to properly serve medical and recreational users.
Coastal Cannapy isn't the only Halifax dispensary facing legal troubles after reporting a crime.
Last month, Halifax police followed up their investigation of an alleged armed robbery at the Scotia Green Dispensary by charging one of its employees with drug trafficking.
Dispensary owner Carl Morgan alleged in an interview Monday that two masked men entered his store and robbed staff and customers by gunpoint in early April.
The alleged thieves were never caught, and instead, Morgan was handed a court date in June.
"(Police) haven't even really questioned me about the people, it seemed," he said. "The investigation was basically based on us right away."
Police confirmed they executed a search warrant during the initial investigation on April 10, then returned the next day with a warrant to search for drugs.
At the time, police Supt. Jim Perrin said police must respond if the law is being broken.
"To sell cannabis in Canada is illegal, and it will continue to be illegal," he said in April. "So if we have case to go into a dispensary and we come across a crime being committed, we'll investigate it."
Canadian marijuana advocate Jodie Emery said in a phone interview from Vancouver, B.C., Monday that dispensaries are sometimes targeted by thieves because employees are less likely to call the police.
"When the police and the government target dispensaries following a theft or a robbery, the police and the government are telling thieves and robbers, 'you can rob these businesses with impunity and we will punish the people you're robbing,'" she said.
Earlier this month, Halifax Regional Municipality announced that they were seeking an order from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to shut down Coastal Cannapy.
Alex Cooke, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version erroneously reported that the break-in happened on Sunday. In fact, it happened Monday.