'We're still here': Alleged marijuana dispensary remains open, employees still without charges
Four months after a police raid, an alleged marijuana dispensary in St. John's is still operating and its employees have yet to be charged with any criminal offence.
"We're still here," said a female employee over the phone on Tuesday.
More than 1,000 grams of marijuana were taken from the Healing Tree on Jan. 4, along with cell phones and other marijuana products.
Two employees were arrested and released without charges.
Police now say they need more time with the seized items before they can determine their course of action.
"The investigation into the trafficking of Schedule II substances has not concluded and no charges have been laid," reads a court application to hold onto the items.
"Further investigation will be required."
After a search warrant is executed, police have three months to hold items seized. After that, they must file for an extension.
The order to extend was approved by a judge on April 20 — the worldwide day of celebrating marijuana culture.
The weed and other items will remain in police custody until Jan. 4, 2018 — one year after the seizure took place.
In court documents, police said they needed more time to examine phones they seized during the raid, and time to view security footage from the building.
They also needed more time to determine the role of business owner Tony Ali.
The same documents show police were not fully aware of who Ali was until he spoke with CBC News four days after the raid took place.
Ali previously claimed the police acted without a warrant. Court documents show the search did occur after a warrant was issued.
Selling a service, not drugs
Each of the employees claimed to be in legal possession of the marijuana and other items taken from the store.
Two of those employees, including the leaseholder, Thomas Taylor, presented their licenses to carry medical marijuana to CBC News the night after the raid.
None of the marijuana was for sale, Taylor said, but was simply on display.
According to police, more time is needed to assess documentation from Health Canada to see if the seized marijuana was legally possessed by the employees.
Instead of offering marijuana, the employees said they offered a service.
For a membership fee, customers could get on a video call with a doctor who would assess their need for a marijuana prescription.
If a prescription was written, the customer would then be able to obtain medical marijuana legally through Canada Post.
No marijuana would actually pass through the shop, both Taylor and Ali said.
CBC News made attempts to reach the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, but no officers were made available for comment.
An employee at the store said they have not seen the police in their building since January.