Saskatoon pot shop boss concerned, hopes police there use ‘common sense’
A series of co-ordinated police raids on six marijuana dispensaries in Regina do not appear to have deterred Saskatoon smokers from lining up at a local outlet to buy strains with names like God Kush and Hawaiian Cheese.
The smell of fresh weed hung in the air at Best Buds Society on Second Avenue in Saskatoon just before lunchtime on Thursday, as sales associates poured stickylooking buds onto scales for a diverse range of customers — old, young, and every age in between.
Sitting in the backroom, managing partner Chris Jordan said he has no indication Saskatoon police are planning similar raids, but he is concerned about the possibility of losing his stock and facing a legal headache.
“I’m just hoping the police in Saskatoon are proceeding from a place of common sense,” Jordan said, noting that the last dispensary raid — against the Compassion Club more than two years ago — resulted in a single guilty plea to trafficking.
Regina police conducted the raids late Wednesday after what Regina police Chief Evan Bray described as months of “fair warning.”
The Regina Police Service is under fire from some for using resources on the raids a few months before the federal government gets ready to legalize recreational cannabis, but Bray defended the moves and said the community expects this.
The Best Buds Society ’s owner in Regina, however, took a different view. As police searched his shop, Pat Warnecke said he has no plans to close up even though an officer read him his rights and charged him with trafficking a controlled substance.
On Thursday night, police raided Best Buds Society ’s Regina shop again and announced charges were laid against three employees.
Saskatoon police declined an interview request.
In an emailed statement, police spokeswoman Kelsie Fraser said, “These unauthorized cannabis outlets are just one of several issues that we are working on.”
Earlier this month, Saskatoon police seized three pounds of cannabis from a local business after responding to reports of a breakand-enter.
In a news release, police stressed that storefront marijuana sales are illegal in Canada. Police subsequently told CBC the seizure was not part of a larger crackdown.
Jordan described the actions of Regina police “irresponsible” and “really unfortunate,” and said the Compassion Club bust showed everyone that police raids on dispensaries are a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Best Buds Society only sells marijuana to people who have a valid prescription, and weed helps customers deal with a range of ailments, from autism and attention deficit disorder to more serious drug addictions, he said.
“I feel really good. I come here every day and there’s people in Saskatoon that we help.”
Chris Jordan, managing partner at Best Buds in Saskatoon, works behind the counter at his pot dispensary in that city’s downtown.