A Cranbrook cannabis store has stirred up some controversy with the RCMP shortly after it opened, depicting local icon Sam Steele in its window.
Provincial law requires marijuana stores to have opaque windows, and Jimmy’s Cannabis chose to use depictions of local history to cover theirs.
With the theme, Sam Steele seemed like a natural fit.
“With that heritage theme, we research and try to make our stores reflective of the communities in which we do business,” said Jeff Weaver, owner and regional manager of Jimmy’s Cannabis. “We chose to use Sam Steele as a distinguished individual that people would know and recognize. I sort of thought of it as a tribute and kind of a shout out to law enforcement.”
Weaver said the store was open for only three hours on Thursday before the police arrived to ask that the photo be removed.
“The owner of the business was not aware that the RCMP uniform is trademarked and a such cannot be used without the expressed permission of the national police force,” said Cranbrook RCMP. “The continued use of the image could be taken as an endorsement of the RCMP for that commercial entity, which we are precluded from doing. No orders were given, it was simply a conversation, which resulted in an agreement to have the image removed.”
Since the conversation, however, Weaver had been in touch with a few historians, and in the photo in question, Steele might not be in an RCMP uniform.
“It was in the early 1900s, upon his (Sam Steele’s) return to Canada after the Boer War. He has a Victoria Cross on his lapel, that’s how people could tell that it’s actually not an RCMP uniform. Another thing that made it difficult for people to tell if it was an RCMP uniform in the first place and therefore subject to the trademark, was that the colour of the etched drawing is black and white,” explained Weaver. “The image is actually not him in his RCMP uniform, which I’m still delighted by in that it hopefully avoids this minor disagreement with the RCMP.”
Weaver added that he hopes this new information might change the minds of the police.
According to Weaver, replacing the window cover will likely be expensive, costing around $1,000. After going through the process required to open a legal cannabis store, he feels this may be an unneeded expense.
Sam Steele is a well-known figure in the East Kootenay, and his depictions can be seen throughout Cranbrook. The town commemorates the man through celebrating Sam Steele Days in June.
“What Sam Steele did in Fort Steele and Cranbrook with improving and mediating relations between Mr. Baker and the Ktunaxa people amongst other things is the reason why we wanted him up there,” explained Weaver. “We feel that this legalization project is all about compromise and change. I think Sam Steele epitomized that.”
Weaver added that he meant no harm by using the photo, and he hopes the police will allow him to keep it up.