A small, but vocal, crowd of protesters petitioned outside the Regina Police Service (RPS) headquarters in response to the force’s raids of dispensaries across the city last week.
Wednesday night, Best Buds Society owner Pat Warnecke was arrested and charged with seven counts related to trafficking medicinal marijuana.
“It’s very frustrating for the patients. They’re really the ones missing out,” Shawn Brailz, a Best Buds supporter said.
Best Buds and police have been at odds since the RPS first searched their shop on March 28. They reopened the next day, even calling out the police on Facebook.
Regina police responded later than night with a second search of the premise. Three Best Buds employees, as well as the owner have since been arrested on trafficking charges.
Those arrests are directly opposed to what police chief Evan Bray told reporters during a scrum during the morning of March 29, when Bray told reporters they had no plans to charge employees or customers.
In an emailed statement a RPS spokesperson said “[Chief Bray] could not have known the owner of one business would ask his employees to continue the alleged offences by re-opening the business,” explaining the charges were in relation to searches conducted after the original six raids.
Caught in the middle are the consumers, those who used the illegal dispensaries because they felt they had nowhere else to turn.
“I can’t afford to be spending $100 on something that I don’t know if it works for me. I don’t get why some people can’t understand that,” explained Karla Weber, one of the protesters in attendance.
Weber says she uses cannabidiols to relieve pain, and edibles to help her sleep at night, adding that she’s not the kind of person to use these treatments to get high.
“I’ve never tasted alcohol, I’ve never done drugs any kind, I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I’m not going to start smoking pot,” Weber stated flatly.
Even after legalization, the edibles that Weber takes will continue to be illegal. It’s that disparity between recreational uses and medical uses that had many protesters feeling as though they were fighting a hopeless battle.
“What are we supposed to do? What else do we do, go to the street? And then going to the street we don’t know what we’re getting! I did the narcotic way, and it didn’t go well for me,” Michelle van Everdink said.
Along with traditional medical marijuana, Best Buds provided extracts, creams and suppositories: medical treatments that don’t necessarily cause the psychoactive effects of THC.
There are only two licensed cannibidiol sellers in Saskatchewan, both only deliver by mail and are inaccessible to users like Weber, or those without credit cards.
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