After spending 24 hours in a jail cell unable to sleep, the owner of the Saskatchewan Compassion Club who was arrested on drug charges says he doesn’t regret operating an unlicensed medical marijuana dispensary.
Mark Hauk, 36, was charged with trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana after police raided his 2nd Avenue North business on Thursday.
He said he had reached out to both the city and police, and that police Chief Clive Weighill postponed two meetings they had recently set up.
“So for them to roll in there, 10 officers strong, without so much of a warning, so much as a phone call, so much as an email, is nothing short of gutless,” Hauk said outside Saskatoon Provincial Court after he was released on $1,000 cash bail Friday morning.
Hauk said he wants to know who made that decision — and how they think it benefits the community. With the recent election of a Liberal government, which campaigned to legalize marijuana, Hauk said the timing of the charges is “nothing short of bizarre.”
Defence lawyer for one of the four people charged in connection to the raid, Robert Dick, called the timing unfortunate.
“It would seem that there is a different political will that may be coming from the federal government. It is a serious question to be asked whether or not there is really a public interest in pursuing this matter, in this way, at this time,” Dick said.
Hauk told reporters he never sugar coated the fact that operating a store-front dispensary was outside of the regulations.
“And that in itself is just the problem. A mail-order medicine system is bizarre and unusual and doesn’t work,” he said, adding the business is needed to serve patients who depend on products, like capsules and oils, that they can’t get through Health Canada.
“So for any of those patients using those products up until yesterday have no access to medicine as of today. And somebody needs to tell me how that benefits our community.”
There are hundreds of compassion clubs across Canada that have offered to step up and help his patients while his case goes through the court, Hauk said. He also stated that the club will remain open for advocacy work, which he said is the bulk of the work they do.
The club’s owner was charged alongside Lane Britnell, 24, who was also released on $1,000 cash bail. Two co-accused women, Carson Ramsay, 23, and Jaime Hagle, 39, were released on undertakings.
Hauk said he’s in the process of organizing a rally for club members and medical marijuana users while he’s out on bail.
“Sick and dying people are literally suffering, so it’s important to act outside those regulations and I still stand by that. If you ask me, you know, would I have gone back and done anything different? No, certainly not.”
Shortly after Hauk’s release a Facebook group called on supporters to protest on the steps of the Saskatoon Police Service Headquarters Saturday at 2 p.m.
Enforcement still needed: police chief
Police Chief Clive Weighill is defending his department’s decision to raid the Saskatchewan Compassion Club.
“Our concern is if you allow one and you don’t take any enforcement action then you’ll have two, then you’ll three, then you’ll have four. Then where does it stop.” said Weighill Friday on Gormley.
Weighill said police have simply shutdown an illegal business under current Canadian laws and stressed people will still be able to get medical marijuana through the licensed suppliers at Health Canada.
Weighill explained the operation was not only illegal, it also posed a health and safety risk to the public.
“We are alleging there was a manufacturing process going on here where they were actually soaking products in solvents creating explosive fumes that could cause fires and explosions. This was being conducted, one in a residence and we allege one in an apartment.”
“It’s not a simple case of somebody just opening up and trying to help people with an illness get medical marijuana.”