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Vancouver Police Respond to Criticism Following Drug Seizure from Downtown Eastside Market

Technical difficulties with video – audio improves at 5:05 

Vancouver Police today released details surrounding a recent seizure of cannabis being sold at the Downtown Eastside Market, including what led up to the seizure.

The day before the seizure, Thursday, September 13, officers conducting routine patrols in the Downtown Eastside located a display of cannabis products, in plain view, at a vendor’s table in the public market at 62 East Hastings Street. The items were clearly marked for sale. The officers spoke with the executive director of the market and determined the operator of the table was aware that trafficking was prohibited in the market, but they ignored requests to leave.

Officers met with a man who identified himself as being responsible for the display. After listening to his explanation that the products were medicine, it was pointed out they were packaged in a manner consistent with trafficking. He was reminded that illegal activity was not welcome in the market. The officers exercised their discretion, warned the man and allowed him to pack up and leave without any further police action.

The next day, just after 10 a.m. on Friday, September 14, officers returned to the market and found the same display in plain view, clearly trafficking controlled substances. For sale were a number of prepackaged and loose cannabis products, pill capsules, vaping products, and two bottles of an unknown white powder. No one would claim responsibility for the products.

Selling controlled substances in this manner is trafficking, and is in violation of current regulatory and criminal sanctions, and will still be illegal after the legalization of cannabis on October 17. Although the officers were met with a hostile crowd, the products were lawfully seized. To be clear, VPD officers spoke with the executive director of the market, who stated they do not want these products being sold in the market.

Select recordings of officers’ actions were shared on social media. Unfortunately, videos such as these show only a small portion of what occurred and none of the previous informal attempts to resolve this issue. This was not a police “raid” as some have mis-characterized 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.

Itemized list of what was seized:

  • 50 Cannabidiol pills – marked $5.00 per capsule
  • 50 THC pills – marked $5.00 each
  • seven marijuana cigarettes (6.75 grams) labelled “Super Joints Hash + Indicia”
  • 18 marijuana cigarettes 12.23 grams labelled “Sativa $3.00 each or 4 for $10.00”
  • 17 marijuana cigarettes (13.07 grams) labelled “Indicia 3.00 each or 4 for $10.00”
  • one container of THC lotion (50.17 grams) labelled “Buddha”
  • five THC vapour refills (100.79 grams) ranging from 1300 mgs at $25.00 to 300 mgs for $10.00 with names of “Green Crack,” “Blueberry Kush,” and “Blueberry CBD C02 Oil”
  • hash ( 5.11 grams)
  • bud marijuana (5.89 grams)
  • unknown powder from two plastic bottles (46.90 grams)
  • one large display case
  • one vape pen $10.00

“The VPD is very aware of the terrible consequences of the opioid crisis, and we continue to support evidence-based harm-reduction initiatives,” says Chief Adam Palmer. “We are a very fair, progressive, and open-minded police agency, and we were the first to call for ‘treatment on demand’ in 2015. We will continue to support our partners in the health and addictions community to save lives in our city. We will also enforce the trafficking laws of Canada as necessary when people are blatantly breaking the law.”