Monday, November 24, 2008

pot-friendly coffee house

More than 100 people are expected to attend the morning rally, many acting as "human billboards" with signs promoting the regulation of cannabis and demanding pot-friendly stores such as the Kindred Cafe be left alone.

"It's all supporters and friends just coming out to show moral support," said organizer Matt Mernagh.

"It's a very busy intersection at 8 a.m., right. Being human billboards with our flags, our signs, our megaphones. It just shows people that we're not going to let this go away."

The gathering comes after police raided the cafe Thursday, charging two employees with trafficking marijuana for allegedly selling undercover officers marijuana-laced treats.

Following the raid, police said they removed furniture, machinery, smoking paraphernalia and an amount of marijuana.

Owner Dominic Cramer faces trafficking-related charges and was expected to turn himself into police later Monday.

Cramer also owns several other cannabis culture shops in the city.

Chad Cooke, a spokesman for the cafe, said the store provides a place for people with medical permits to smoke marijuana, as well as social users, to gather, but never sold drugs.

He said the rally is not associated with Cramer or the cafe and he has asked the event organizers to keep it peaceful.

"The time has passed for the in-your-face 'We smoke pot and get high, get used to it' mentality. That doesn't win over public support and that's not what we are about. We are about approaching it from a point of view that it is something normal and common sense prevails, and public opinion prevails, that this is really a non-issue and we can move forward from this," he said.

Cooke said Cramer would be turning himself in to police later in the day and be detained overnight for a bail hearing Tuesday. At the time of publication, he had not been formally charged.

In 2004, a Vancouver SWAT team raided Da Kine Cafe and arrested owner Carol Gwilt for openly selling pot to customers. Seven cafe staff members were charged with drug-trafficking and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.

In 2006, Gwilt pleaded guilty to trafficking charges and possession of the proceeds of crime. Investigators had seized nine kilograms of marijuana, some hashish, 300 cannabis-laced cookies and about $60,000 in U.S. and Canadian currency.

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