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Police ready to crack down on pot shops
Published Thursday, February 8, 2018 6:34PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, February 8, 2018 6:47PM CST
Some marijuana dispensaries are continuing to operate in Regina, despite receiving formal written warning from Regina Police Service earlier this week.
Letters advising owners that they are breaking the law were dropped off at pot stores across the city this week. The letter told recipients to “govern yourself accordingly,” and warned of possible action being taken.
"In written form, they've been notified as to the specific sections of the controlled drugs and substances act that they may be in violation of and the fact that they're subject to enforcement,” said Elizabeth Popowich, Regina Police Service.
For some dispensaries, the warnings are not enough to convince them to abandon their customers. The owner and manager of Best Buds Society is keeping his store open, because he believes the removal of actual marijuana stores could lead to a health crisis in Regina.
"We’re here to help patients. And we're not going to stop helping patients. If we're face with the moral issue of helping thousands of patients, possibly saving lives, or getting a criminal charge, we'll take the criminal charge,” said Pat Warnecke, manager and owner of Best Buds.
From the Regina Police Service’s perspective, patients that need medicinal marijuana can access it through Health Canada, and don't need to buy from a store. Adding a verbal warning from the police chief in January, and this week’s written letters, are more than enough of a heads up for the marijuana dispensaries to stand down.
"We've been saying to people in many different ways that the sale of cannabis in a store, any sort of a storefront or a dispensary, is still illegal under current law,” Popowich said.
Some dispensaries, like Regina Green Cross Medicine, have closed their doors. Originally a sign on the front door showed the store would stay open until February 15, but that was crossed out and replaced with January 30.
But stores like Best Buds Society are staying open, hoping to service customers who haven't received access through Health Canada.
"If you don't have a credit card in your name, or if you don't have a fixed address, you can't order either. So obviously those are very huge limitations to a lot of people,” Warnecke said.
Police have not actually shut down any dispensaries yet. But it is not at all clear how much longer that will be the case.