Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jan 2018
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2018 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Solomon Israel
Page: B3


POLICE raided two locations of the Winnipeg Compassion Club last week,
saying the storefronts were operating as "illegal marijuana

Officers seized approximately $25,000 worth of marijuana, $20,000 of
marijuana in alternate forms and $6,000 in cash from both locations,
which were "openly selling marijuana," the Winnipeg Police Service
said in a news release on Wednesday.

Three men were arrested and charged with several drug-possession and
trafficking offences, as well as possession of the proceeds of crime.
The men, ages 45, 28 and 27, have been released pending court

One of the Winnipeg Compassion Club locations raided is at the corner
of McPhillips Street and Jefferson Avenue, while the other, called
Winnipeg Compassion Club South, is on the 2900 block of Pembina
Highway, police said.

Lawyer Neil Kaplan, who represents the owner of the Winnipeg
Compassion Club's McPhillips location, said his client intends to
challenge the allegations made against him.

WPS spokesman Const. Rob Carver described illegal marijuana sales as a
public safety issue. Cannabis recently seized by Winnipeg police, he
said, is contaminated with bacteria and heavy metals - although the
cannabis seized from the Winnipeg Compassion Club locations has not
yet been tested for contaminants.

Carver said police also are concerned edible cannabis products, such
as the ones seized from the Winnipeg Compassion Club locations, could
make their way into the hands of children. The products were
candy-like in appearance.

"These are not safe things, and they're not safe things that are being
distributed in a way that would be specifically appealing to young
kids," Carver said Wednesday. "This is dangerous. I'm a parent. I
don't know anyone who thinks that this could be a good idea.

"These are not comments on the forthcoming sale of marijuana
(legally)," Carver added. "It's simply an issue of black-market
product being sold illegally that could present a danger."

The term "compassion club" is generally used to describe
not-for-profit organizations focused on meeting the needs of medical
cannabis users. On its Facebook page, the Winnipeg Compassion Club
describes itself as "providing information and access to medical
marijuana prescriptions in Manitoba by working within Health Canada's

Although Health Canada does regulate a legal medical cannabis regime
under the federal government's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Regulations, those regulations do not permit retail sales. Medical
cannabis users registered with Health Canada must receive a doctor's
authorization before signing up with a federally licensed cannabis
producer and ordering cannabis that is then shipped by mail.

Federal legalization of marijuana for recreational use is expected
this summer, at which point legal storefront marijuana sales will be
allowed under provincial regulations.
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