Pubdate: Sat, 20 Jan 2018
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2018 The StarPhoenix
Author: Morgan Modjeski
Page: A3


Police developing policies on steps to take when marijuana legalized
in July

Troy Cooper, Saskatoon's new police chief, says he will closely review
the policy city police are developing on marijuana dispensaries after
the start of his term on Feb. 28.

"In Saskatoon, I think in five weeks time, if things are still
unresolved by government and it's still illegal, I think we'll take a
common-sense approach where there's education for the people who are
running the dispensaries," Cooper said.

"Communication is what our next steps are going to be, then reasonable
enforcement after that. We recognize that there is law coming - and it
is changing - but it's illegal currently and it's unsafe because it's
not regulated."

Cooper said he wants to make sure the police policy is "something we
think is agreeable to the community at that time."

While the federal government has set a July target date to legalize
marijuana, storefront dispensaries are currently illegal and sell what
the federal government indicates are "untested, unregulated products."

Cooper said he feels most people operating dispensaries are legitimate
business owners or people who care about the medical component of marijuana.

"They're reasonable people and when they're given notice about what
the laws are, they'll be compliant."

Mikael Francis, a partner and manager at downtown cannabis dispensary
Best Buds Society, Lifestyles Health and Nutrition, said the new chief
's comments are "cause for concern."

"The way that we see it is we've been put on notice," Francis said in
a recent interview.

Best Buds supplies the drug to people with marijuana prescriptions
through a storefront model.

Francis said he worries that any closure of the dispensary would force
patients to turn to illicit dealers or go through Health Canada's
licensed producers, a system some medical marijuana advocates have
called troublesome.

"We're going to try and help them as much as we can," he

"We're obviously concerned if people are forced to go back to the
street or work within an inefficient system."

Francis said it "would be great to have a constructive dialogue" with
the new police chief, but the possibilities of that "are probably limited."

Cooper said there will be chances for consultation with the community
as city council formulates bylaws and regulations for businesses
selling cannabis products under legalization.

"I don't think anyone is being put on notice by police, they've been
put on notice by the law," he said.

"This, as I mentioned, is not necessarily a policing issue. It's still
very much a political issue. It's still very much something that's
evolving as far as what the rules are going to be."

According to Weedmaps, a dispensary tracking website, five
dispensaries are operating in Saskatoon. Some of them have recently
been visited by a City of Saskatoon inspector.

In response to a request for an interview with a city representative
on the kind of information being collected and why, the city provided
a prepared statement.

"The City collects information from many businesses on an ongoing
basis to ensure compliance with the Zoning Bylaw and with the Business
License Bylaw," wrote Jo-Anne Richter, acting director of Community

The city does not disclose whether it's gathering information about a
specific business or businesses, she added.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt