Regina Police bring warning letter to local cannabis dispensaries

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WATCH ABOVE: Last month Regina’s Chief of Police sent out a warning to local marijuana dispensaries. The message was simple: Selling cannabis from a storefront is illegal. On Tuesday, police delivered that message directly to the shops. Marney Blunt has more – Feb 7, 2018

Regina Police officers visited local marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday with a letter warning that selling marijuana from a storefront is illegal.

In January, Regina Police Chief Evan Bray hosted a news conference, warning dispensary owners and managers that enforcement action could be taken.

“We will be having a conversation with the owners and the operators of these shops in the City of Regina as well,” Chief Evan Bray said during the January news conference. “Once that communication is complete, there will be an expectation of compliance. If we find situations where illegal selling is occurring. Enforcement action will be taken.”

READ MORE: ‘I understand Chief Bray is doing his job’: Regina marijuana dispensary owners respond to police chief

The letter delivered to local dispensaries on Tuesday outlined charges the dispensary could face, including charges for possession, trafficking and importing or exporting a controlled substance. It also advised owner to “kindly govern yourself accordingly.”

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“There’s no legal way in Canada to purchase cannabis over a counter. For anyone who requires cannabis for medical purposes, there’s a process through Health Canada,” Regina Police Service Spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said.

“Anyone who still chooses to disobey the existing laws is subject to investigation and enforcement,” Popowich added.

Tuesday’s visit from Regina Police was an unwelcome one for the owner and manager of Best Buds Society.

“I think it’s disappointing. The Regina Police Service is pushing forward a potential health crisis here. They’re basically cutting off medication for a lot of people,” Best Buds Society owner and manager Pat Warnecke said.

Warnecke says he plans to keep his doors open for business.

“We’re here for humanitarian reasons, we’re here to help patients and we’re going to continue to do so,” he said.

He also says he is seeking legal assistance.

“If police come in and raid us, and take the medication from people, obviously we’ll be shut down for a short period of time. But we’ll be filing an injunction and we’ll be opening up as soon as we can again to help sick people.”

Once recreational marijuana is legalized, the province will be issuing permits to six dispensaries in Regina who can legally sell recreational marijuana.

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“We’ll be putting in an application for that, but that’s the recreational system. Right now we’re here to help patients only,” Warnecke said, “The rec system is almost pushing patients to the side, and we don’t want to do that. We want to make sure that patients are addressed first and foremost.”

Others dispensaries in Regina are taking a different approach.

“I was waiting for them to come give me the letter because things can’t move forward until things change,” Kelz Medical Services Corp. owner Kelly Csada said.

Csada says after police delivered the letter to her business on Tuesday, she closed her shop medicinal marijuana shop temporarily.

“There was a couple patients in here, I explained that we’re going to be closed for a few days,” Csada said. ”Everything happens so that we can always move forward, and that’s what we plan on doing.”

Kelly Csada says after police delivered the letter to her business on Tuesday, she closed her shop medicinal marijuana shop temporarily. Derek Putz / Global News

Csada also noted that education is key, and she will continue fighting for her patient’s rights.

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“This has been an ongoing issue about patients fighting for their rights since 2002 when medicinal cannabis became legal in Canada,” Csada said.

“[Medicinal marijuana users] are still applying through the system that the government has setup, waiting 13 to 14 weeks to get a (prescription) to be able to order. Once you get that (prescription) and then maybe it’s a two day process to get the prescription to your door. But who should have to become ill, or been dealing with an illness where cannabis helps them, get a prescription finally and then have to wait 13 or 14 weeks to get that medication? That’s wrong, that shouldn’t be happening after 16 years of fighting for medicinal cannabis in Canada.”

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