Shortly after seizing thousands of pipes, bongs and grinders from The Chad Smoke Shop, another Prince Rupert business has been warned they could face punishment for selling similar products.
Krish, the manager of Prince Rupert’s Express News who asked his last name not be used, confirmed RCMP came into Express News in the Rupert Square Mall on July 17 to inform staff it is illegal to sell pipes and bongs in the country.
Under Section 462.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada “every one who knowingly imports into Canada, exports from Canada, manufactures, promotes or sells instruments of literature for illicit drug use is guilty of an offence”.
“It’s unfortunate we can’t sell it, but we don’t want to break any laws or get into any kind of trouble,” Krish said.
Shelving at Express News that was once filled with glass pipes and bongs now sit empty, with Krish saying he is unaware if products will ever fill up the shelves in the future.
“If we do sell them, like at [The Chad Smoke Shop] they could be seized, and we could face an offence. Right now our franchiser has asked us to take them off the shelves,” he said.
Krish said it’s another blow to the business. When Express News opened its doors a year ago it planned on selling lottery tickets, but were unable to. Krish said now that Express New isn’t allowed to sell the items, the store’s inventory has been narrowed.
Krish and his family moved from Vancouver, with his parents investing money to open the business. With the restrictions Prince Rupert’s Express News has come across, the family is fearful they will not get their investment back.
“Every other store in Canada is getting to sell these items. It’s unfair that we can’t,” Krish said.
No other Express News store in British Columbia is being warned about selling the smoking devices.
“We’re a tobacco store that sold them for tobacco use only … our intention was for the items to be used for tobacco,” Krish said.
The warning comes after Prince Rupert RCMP executed a search warrant on The Chad Smoke Shop earlier this month after a six month investigation into the business, which has now closed its doors. RCMP said Chad Wentworth, the owner of four other smoke shops in B.C., is facing criminal charges.
Dana Larsen of Sensible BC, a group working toward decriminalizing possession of marijuana and stopping police from spending time or resources on possession cases, said he believes there are more pressing issues Prince Rupert RCMP could be investigating.
“This kind of selective enforcement is really not where the RCMP should be focusing their resources. Policing costs are skyrocketing in B.C … yet they were able to do a six month investigation into this store selling bongs and pipes. I think the people of Prince Rupert would rather see their RCMP force spending that amount of investigative time and effort on going after real crimes,” he said.
Larsen said it’s not only unfair RCMP assumed items sold at Express News would be used for marijuana, but it’s also unfair for individuals purchasing items to smoke medical marijuana.
“I would encourage them to stand up to the RCMP on this … I would love to see this case go to court because I believe this law could be struck down once and for all,” he said.
Not all Prince Rupert businesses known for selling pipes, bongs or grinders were given a warning. When contacted on the morning of Wednesday, June 19, Doug Larsen, manager at Prince Rupert’s pawn shop Homesteader New and Used confirmed the business had not been contacted by RCMP regarding the sale of pipes, bongs and grinders. Larsen declined to comment further.
Requests for comment from the Prince Rupert RCMP were not immediately returned.