Saskatoon police are explaining why they laid charges against four people connected to the Saskatchewan Compassion Club medical marijuana dispensary.
The compassion club was raided last Thursday, along with the home of founder Mark Hauk. He and three others are facing drug possession and trafficking charges.
The case has generated discussion throughout Saskatoon, with many taking to social media to criticize police’s handling of the matter.
In a media release, police spokesperson Alyson Edwards pointed out that possessing and selling marijuana both remain illegal under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. While newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize and regulate the drug, Edwards said it hasn’t happened yet, with the first step being a consultation process on how to set up the new system. Edwards said Trudeau has still promised penalties for people who sell marijuana outside of approved channels even after legalization goes through.
Edwards repeated that the charges stem from the club selling marijuana without a license from Health Canada. She also noted that club founder Mark Hauk was warned to follow the marijuana laws when he consulted with police prior to opening and that he was also sent a letter from Health Canada threatening him with arrest.
Hauk has argued that his reason for starting his business was to help people who couldn’t get things like extracts and oils under the medical marijuana regime set up by the outgoing government of Stephen Harper. In the police release, Edwards insisted that people can get what they need through legal channels. “People who have perscriptions for medicinal marijuana can receive their marijuana through several legally licensed producers and dispensers. They are not left without a supplier,” she wrote.
Finally, Edwards stated that there were misconceptions out there about how Saskatoon police tackle the issue of marijuana. Specifically, she wrote that Saskatoon police don’t lay the most charges for pot in the country. Citing data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, she wrote that Saskatoon comes in fourth out of 12 cities in marijuana possession charges per 100,000 people.
The full press release is available on the Saskatoon Police Service website.