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Police hope Saskatoon’s illegal pot dispensaries voluntarily close

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WATCH ABOVE: With marijuana legalization scheduled, Saskatoon police are hoping the illegal pot dispensaries in the city close on their own. – Jan 24, 2018

On Wednesday morning in downtown Saskatoon, Best Buds Society was a busy place.

“There might be a thousand local patients registered with us,” Mikael Francis, with Best Buds Society, said.

READ MORE: Stakeholders suggest variety of ages for legal marijuana consumption

Mikael Francis, with Best Buds Society, said medical marijuana users want to see the product they’re buying in person. Wendy Winiewski

The storefront sells cannabis flower, tinctures, oils and body creams to the public. According to Francis, only those with a medical marijuana prescription can receive product at the location.

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Best Buds Society opened on 2nd Avenue North in June 2017. It has been operating there illegally ever since.

In 2015, the Saskatchewan Compassion Club, operating very similarly to Best Buds, was raided by the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) and shut down.

READ MORE: Saskatoon marijuana dispensary re-opens amid owner’s legal battle

Saskatoon Police Service Supt. David Haye. Wendy Winiewski / Global News

“It’s a matter of priorities for the Saskatoon Police Service,” Supt. David Haye said.

“We’re currently addressing trends in crystal meth and we believe that’s driving some of our property crime numbers and we’re also very concerned about opioids in the market and those investigations, I mean, when it comes to opioids, we have people dying from opioid use.”

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While investigating the dispensaries would be a resource heavy task, the SPS said there are other avenues.

“Enforcement action can take many different roles. If a bylaw investigation results in charges, we could ask the courts for an injunction and an enforcement order on the injunction to close the business,” Haye said.

Both Best Buds dispensaries in Saskatoon have business licences for specialty health and nutrition services. Other locations in the 800-block of 20th Street West and in the 600-block of 3rd Avenue North are unlicensed.

The Regina Police Service (RPS) has worked with federal Crown prosecutors and Health Canada to create information documents which it will be handing out to dispensaries in Regina in the coming days.

“Once that has happened I expect that there will be compliance,” RPS Chief Evan Bray said. “If there isn’t then obviously enforcement is an option.”

Best Buds Society plans to apply for a number of the province’s 60 possible retail permits.

READ MORE: Marijuana to be sold in private Saskatchewan stores and online

In the meantime, Haye said, “what we’re hoping is that these outlets will realize that time is up and will voluntarily start to comply with the law.”

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“If that is something we have to do, we’ll do it,” Francis said.

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