Saska­toon pot shop boss con­cerned, hopes po­lice there use ‘common sense’

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY+REGION - ALEX MacPHER­SON With files from Arthur White-Crummey amacpher­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/macpher­sona

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.”

MICHELLE BERG

Chris Jor­dan, man­ag­ing part­ner at Best Buds in Saska­toon, works be­hind the counter at his pot dis­pen­sary in that city’s down­town.

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