A history of negative police interactions and involvement with illegal dispensaries is causing some concern for the Central Saanich Police Department in regards to a proposal for a Brentwood Bay cannabis shop.
When asked why police flagged an application from Ben Hinton to open and operate a cannabis retail store in the 7700-block of West Saanich Road, Deputy Chief Derren Lench said “Hinton had some prior negative interactions with police in other jurisdictions.”
Lynch declined to describe them in detail, acknowledging they were dated.
Lench also pointed to Hinton’s history of operating illegal dispensaries. Lynch said the dispensaries have been and continue to remain illegal because they were selling what was at the time an illegal product.
Police arrested Hinton, a long-time entrepreneur and advocate for cannabis, before releasing him without charge in April 2016, after raiding the Campbell River branch of Trees – lsland Grown, an Island-wide chain of dispensaries currently suspended from operations.
This history raises questions about Hinton’s character, Lench said. “I’m looking at his character as a business owner in Brentwood Bay.”
Lench acknowledged that Hinton is now trying to open and operate a legal business.
Hinton’s application, however, remains on the table after Central Saanich councillors meeting as the committee of the whole deferred a decision.
Staff had recommended rejecting the proposal but a majority of councillors instead decided to hold off on making a decision until the provincial government has completed its assessment of the application, a process that may take some time.
Hinton did not directly respond to Lynch’s comments about his character and past interactions with police. Nor did he respond to the question of whether he feels treatly unfairly in the present for past actions.
Hinton said in an emailed statement to the Peninsula News Review that he is “eagerly awaiting provincial approval” for the proposed location in thanking council and staff. Hinton said Brentwood Bay has been a part of his whole life and he looks forward to opening a business that will offer customer service and community engagement while being compliant. “We are confident that we will have approval by the end of 2019 and be open in early 2020 to serve the community,” he said.