Law

Drug charges continue against Halifax dispensary owner

"It’s not the time for 19+, I’ve learned my lesson."

A pedestrian passes by the empty Auntie’s storefront on Barrington.   Mathew Kahansky

Criminal drug charges against Shirley Martineau of Auntie’s Health and Wellness dispensary were confirmed in provincial court on Tuesday.

Appearing at an arraignment hearing on Feb. 7, Martineau was formally charged with the possession and production of marijuana for trafficking purposes.

“I’m sad, of course,” Martineau says from her home in Dartmouth. “It was my dream and I had quite a few patients that I’m concerned about; I don’t care about the money or the place.”

Martineau’s storefront originally gained attention when she started dispensing to all customers over the age of 19, despite federal laws and the lack of a Halifax Regional Municipality business occupancy permit.

Martineau’s policy at Auntie’s was to help her ailing customers as much as possible.

“In my mind I truly believe I’m not a dealer,” she says. “I believe I’m a healer, and it so happens that I heal with cannabis.”

Auntie’s dispensary was raided in December but reopened shortly after Martineau and three other employees were arrested. However, Martineau and the other employees were forbidden to return to Auntie’s after their arrest, and an eviction notice has since been posted in the empty storefront’s doorway.

As The Coast reported, Auntie’s was denied a business occupancy permit as a health and wellness centre because of their storefront sales of marijuana. Other dispensaries in the municipality face similar obstacles.

“Things were going well when I was doing medicinal; the cops didn’t bother me, but the minute I opened 19+ things went crazy,” Martineau recalls. “I lost everything over that. It’s not the time for 19+, I’ve learned my lesson.”

Martineau also says that police interactions have been “pretty respectful, other than destroying my house.”

When presented with Martineau’s comments, Media Relations Officer Const. Dianne Penfound responded, “Halifax Regional Police strive to be professional and respectful in our dealings with community members regardless of the situation.”

Due to Martineau’s case being heard in court, police weren’t able give further details.

Despite the charges, Martineau remains optimistic for the future of Auntie’s.

“I’ve got a lot of people behind me that want me to continue to stay open,” she says. “I’m taking my time right now, but I’ll open soon. Don’t know when or where, but I’m still hoping.”

According to the arraignment court file, police noted that Martineau and another man “unlawfully (had) in their possession, for the purpose of trafficking, not in excess of three kilograms (of) Cannabis,” at their home in Dartmouth. In addition, the pair were found to “unlawfully produce Cannabis,” for trafficking, meaning charges seemingly haven’t changed since the arrest.

Martineau is set to return to court on March 2 to respond to the charges.