SASKATOON – Four people facing charges connected to a crackdown on a medical marijuana dispensary in Saskatoon were released with numerous conditions after appearing in provincial court Friday morning.
Mark Phillip Hauk, 39, and Lane Anthony Britnell, 24, are charged with trafficking and possessing marijuana. Hauk is the operator of the Saskatchewan Compassion Club, a pot dispensary in Saskatoon. Both men were ordered to pay $1,000 bail as a condition of their release.
Two women, Jamie Michelle Hagel and Carson Jocelyn Ramsay also face trafficking charges in connection to the dispensary. They were released and not ordered to pay bail.
“They were operating as if they were a legitimate business”, said Inspector Dave Haye of the Saskatoon Police Service on Thursday.
“They are not a legitimate business; they are marijuana trafficking so they’re drug traffickers,” he added.
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On Thursday morning police executed search warrants at a home in the 400-block of 109th Street and the Compassion Club on 2nd Avenue North.
“The actions that Saskatoon police service took yesterday were nothing short of shameful and gutless in my eyes,” said Hauk outside of provincial court Friday.
“For them to roll in there, ten drug officers strong without so much of a warning, so much of a phone call, so much of an email, is nothing short of gutless,” he added.
A number of supporters rallied outside provincial court Friday morning, calling the charges an “injustice.” Many said they disagreed with federal regulations that only allow licensed medical marijuana distributors to sell dried cannabis through the mail.
“I want to see my medicine when I buy it, that’s the bottom line to it,” said Kelly Anderson, a Compassion Club customer.
“If I go to a pharmacy I see the medicine when I buy it … why can’t I do that now?”
“These people in there right now are just trying to once again fill in that spot that the government has left,” added Xander O’Neill, another supporter who was outside provincial court Friday.
Enforcement against marijuana dispensaries in Canada is inconsistent according to University of Saskatchewan sessional lecturer Lucas Richert. He said one reason is because the remedy is still contested in some medical circles.
“The problem with the Compassion Club is it circumvents the federal regulatory medical marijuana system,” said Richert, who studies drug and pharmaceutical history.
“It takes a long time for a recreational drug to be considered a medicine,” he added.
Hauk has noted that his products help patients deal with medical issues and only people with a prescription can buy from the club. He said his doors will re-open in the coming days, even if the group isn’t currently selling product.
“I can tell you that this isn’t the end of the club,” said Hauk.
He and Britnell will be back in court on Nov. 12. Hagel and Ramsay are set to appear again on Dec. 1.
All four were ordered not to have contact with one another as a condition of their release.