Saskatoon City Report says ‘No’ to Regulating Dispensaries

In a report to be discussed by Saskatoon council next week, staff have recommended that the city not try its hand in regulating medical cannabis dispensaries.

After being raided by police, the Saskatchewan Compassion Club requested that the city put forward guidelines to license dispensaries in Saskatoon, but the report is now recommending that officials to not enter into, what they see as, a federal issue.

“The regulations in place with respect to the possession, consumption, production and distribution of medical marijuana fall solely within the federal jurisdiction,” read the report, written by solicitor Jodi Manastyrski. “A storefront operation is not a permitted method of dispensing medical marijuana under the current regime regardless of the type of license obtained.”

Compassion club operator Mark Hauk said the report came as a surprise, as he thought it had been scrapped after the raid on his business, but, one he opened the document, was disappointed.

“I won’t even give it the dignity of calling it a report,” said Hauk. “It’s two pages of lawyer-speak to say that dispensaries are federally illegal in Canada. Well, that doesn’t get us any further ahead and it’s incredibly dismissive of the issues at hand.”

The report will be discussed at a Feb. 8 Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services meeting, where Hauk said he, and several others, will make a presentation to stress that the city can’t wipe its hands of dispensaries and pass them off as a federal issue.

“We all know now that people are needlessly suffering in the community and you can’t just put your heads in the sand,” Hauk said. “Throughout all of this mess, our mayor and police chief have repeatedly told the public that there’s no issues here and everybody’s accessing their medicine in a reasonable fashion. We simply know today that that’s just not true.”

Manastyrski’s report states that “in the event that there is a change to the regulations applicable to the possession, consumption and sale of marijuana, the administration will bring a report back to City Council at that time,” but Hauk said the Liberals’ legalization program could take years.

“The sick and dying people don’t have a year or a year and a half to wait for legalization to happen, that’s just not acceptable,” Hauk said.

On the Saskatchewan Compassion Club’s Facebook page, plans have been made to organize supporters to attend the Monday meeting.

“This committee, our mayor, and police chief, needs to hear, loud and clear, from the people that are being affected by the city’s ignorant refusal to allow a medical cannabis dispensary in Saskatoon,” the Facebook event reads.

Hauk said he has high hopes for the meeting, where city councillors, who have publicly and privately been supportive of him in the past, will be able to weigh in on the issue.

“I’m hopeful that they will stand their ground at that meeting and be as supportive as they were many months ago, so it’ll be very interesting,” Hauk said.