Chants of “Free Derek Roque” could be heard outside the Sudbury Courthouse this morning and dozens of people gathered to support the owner of Creator's Choice, who was arrested Sept. 18 after Anishinabek Police Service raided his dispensary on Wahnapitae First Nation.
Both Creator's Choice and First Nation's Medicinal were raided at 12:10 p.m. on Sept. 18.
A bail hearing for Derek Roque, the only person arrested in the raids, was set for this morning. It was postponed, though, to this afternoon. When it finally went ahead, Roque was granted bail, posting $60,000 bail with no deposit ($20,000 each for Roque and two sureties).
Sudbury.com will publish an interview with Roque on Friday morning.
Wahnapitae First Nation band councillor Ted Roque, who is related to Derek Roque, said Chief Larry Roque and council were surprised by the raids. He was at the courthouse this morning to show his support for the release of Derek Roque.
“I just don't understand it,” he said. “We are a little disappointed in APS for not being in communication with our chief. This was preventable.”
Sudbury.com is trying to reach Anishinabek Police Service for answers on why they carried out the raids. No information has been provided yet.
At first, the relationship between the dispensaries and the chief and council was tumultuous, however, that has changed, Ted Roque said.
The First Nation held a referendum among its members, on and off reserve, and it was clear there was a desire for the dispensaries, Ted Roque said. Council is respecting the referendum.
“We've been working for the past year to put in place laws that will govern the dispensaries in our territory,” he said. “We want to make sure any product sold is safe, and we're putting in place the laws that will allow us to do that.”
In fact, representatives from the dispensaries have been meeting with chief and council to put in place rules and regulations to self-govern those businesses.
“We just had a meeting Monday night to go over the rules we're putting in place, and that's a process that needs to happen, and the dispensaries are respecting that,” said Ted Roque. “That process is moving along very well, and the meeting on Monday was very respectful. At the end of the day, it's the Wahnapitae chief and council that will put the rules in place.”
Ted Roque said he wasn't at there when officers raided Creator's Choice, but Chief Larry Roque was.
“He asked them to leave and not arrest Derek, and it's unfortunate he was arrested. We're here to support the fact he should be released and the product seized given back to those two dispensaries.”
Derek Roque wasn't on the property at the time of his arrest, said Ted Roque. He was pulled over while driving when he was arrested, apparently on breach of previous bail conditions.
There was no need for officers to force their way into the building, Ted Roque said. There were people there with keys, but the front door was damaged as officers gained entry into the dispensary.
“There's nothing illegal in there to hide,” Ted Roque said. “We shouldn't be losing out on this economic opportunity.”
He said council has had conversations with the federal government regarding coming up with their own laws.
“We don't need to apply to the province of Ontario for a licence,” Ted Roque said. “We can issue our own licence, as long as there are rules and regulations that ensure it's safe, and the owners are respecting those bylaws we put in place.
“We want to have a safe community. We don't want organized crime there. We want to do this right, and give our people the same economic opportunities as the rest of Canada.”
Creator's Choice said on its Facebook page it will be open for business today.
“We will continue to work with the dispensaries going forward to ensure it's being done right,” Ted Roque said.