Police seize product at four unlicensed cannabis dispensaries
As Canada nears the one-year anniversary of legalizing cannabis, Regina police cracked down on four “unlicensed cannabis dispensaries” allegedly operating in the city.RPS officers, along with investigators from Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN), seized cannabis and cannabis products like oils, creams and edibles, as well as cash and documents related to the sale of illicit cannabis, police said in a media release issued late Monday night. Dispensary owners and employees at alleged illicit dispensaries on the 1400 block of Scarth Street, 2800 block of Saskatchewan Drive, 2400 block of Dewdney Avenue and 1500 block of 11th Avenue were charged and fined for unlawfully committing offences under the Saskatchewan Cannabis Control Act.The Leader-Post reached out to the shops at those locations for someone to comment on the busts, but no one responded as of late Tuesday afternoon. Adjacent business operators confirmed seeing a heavy police presence at those locations on Monday.Police have not released the names of the businesses, nor of the individuals charged. City police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said the reason for that is that individuals were charged not under the Criminal Code or Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but rather a provincial statute.Charges include distribution of illicit cannabis, possession of illicit cannabis and possession of more than 30 grams of cannabis.While Popowich didn’t release names, she said those charged are not the same people charged back in March 2018 when police raided six cannabis dispensaries in the city said to have been selling the drug illegally. The locations searched this time were also different from those raided last year.In total, six individuals were charged following Monday’s raids. Popowich said in some cases, people were issued tickets they could either voluntarily pay or challenge in court. In other cases — she couldn’t say how many — those charged were summonsed to appear in court on Dec. 16.“We believe that each of the principles were fully aware of our education and enforcement in early 2018,” Popowich said, although she was unable to confirm whether any of the businesses had been among those to receive direct contact and warnings from the police prior to the March 2018 raids.Popowich said the Monday enforcement was the result of a project that incorporated “weeks, if not months of investigation.” She added the project would have involved up to 40 people.Popowich said continued police focus on illegal cannabis dispensaries doesn’t come at the expense of investigations into serious, hard drugs currently plaguing Regina streets.“It would be inaccurate for people to assume that that is the only drug enforcement that is going on in the city,” she said. “We are working on other drugs in our community like methamphetamine and cocaine and now fentanyl, but they are different types of investigations and you don’t have a storefront on any of those. So the approach and the enforcement activity looks different. But that’s not to say that we are working on one to the exclusion of others.”Under legalization in Saskatchewan, six dispensary licences were made available in Regina, with five licensed shops currently operating in the city.The provincial Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act “is intended to empower residents to take back their neighbourhoods by reporting problem residences or businesses that are habitually used for illegal activities,” like drugs, prostitution, gang or criminal activities, child sexual abuse or the unlawful sale or consumption of alcohol.