After police raided Green Light District, the operator told a Welland Tribune reporter he didn’t commit any crimes because his store’s inventory was limited to hemp products, pipes, bongs and rolling papers.
But in Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines Monday, Joseph Pawlik, who claimed he never operated a cannabis dispensary, was sentenced to 34 months behind bars on several drug-related charges related to operating an illegal cannabis dispensary.
Despite the fact the public perception of cannabis use may have changed over the past couple of years, particularly with the legalization of cannabis, federal prosecutor Michelle Colacarro said the defendant’s commercial enterprise was still illegal.
“Illegal dispensaries still pose a risk to our society,” she said.
In March 2019, court heard, the OPP’s provincial joint forces cannabis enforcement team began investigating Green Light District in Fitch Street Plaza and an online dispensary called Canna Niagara.
An undercover police officer placed an online order in April, and the delivery driver told him he’d already made 20 deliveries that day. Investigators tailed the driver, and watched as an additional 11 deliveries were made.
Police executed warrants later that month at Green Light District.
In a conversation with the Tribune shortly after the arrest, Pawlik maintained the only items seized by police from his plaza store were products that did not contain THC or CBD, the active ingredients in cannabis.
As a result of the investigation, however, police seized $300,000 in marijuana, $36,000 in hash, $32,000 in shatter (a brittle marijuana concentrate), $60,000 in marijuana edibles, $3,300 in cocaine and more than $70,000 in cash.
Warrants were also executed at a commercial building on King Street and a residence on Spruce Avenue, both in Welland.
Court was told the King Street location was used as a distribution centre for the online