Regina Police raid cannabis dispensaries, leave medicinal users stranded

Regina Police Service raided six illegal cannabis dispensaries across the city but the victims aren’t the store owners, they’re the customers who depend on medicinal marijuana.

Thousands of dollars of illegal trafficking materials and hundreds of pounds of marijuana were seized after the Regina Police Service (RPS) raided six illegal cannabis dispensaries across the city.

But the victims aren’t just the store owners, they’re the customers who depend on medicinal marijuana.

“I’m really scared, not nervous, scared because the stuff that helps me is gone,” Kaida Dragon, a cannabidiol user said.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract of the cannabis plant that doesn’t not have any of the psychoactive effects of THC. Dragon used CBD as a method to alleviate the intense pain she suffers as a result of a bulging disk in her spine.

“Without the CBD that I get from Best Buds, I would be in bed, crying, laying on a heating pad, crawling around on the floor just to get around,” Dragon continued through tears, “I don’t do it to get high, and there’s lots of people like me to do it to get high, we just want to be better.”

According to Pat Warnecke, the owner of Best Buds Society, one of the dispensaries that was raided by Regina police, Dragon is one of hundreds of customers facing similar situations.

Which is why, despite facing potential charges and having his store raided, Warnecke reopened just less than 24 hours later.

“We can’t turn our back on people who need help,” Warnecke said. “We have sick people, marginalized people, people the system isn’t helping right now, people who are sick and dying, we can’t just turn our back on those people.”

He continued defiantly, “we need to make sure those people can keep on getting help, no matter what.”

Regina Police Service Chief Evan Bray says the raids were about keeping the community safe, and stopping drugs from being sold to minors.

“It’s about quality control, it’s about keeping the public safe, and it’s about protecting the youth in our community,” Bray said. “We’ve been very, very forthcoming in all of those reasons why, and so no it’s not a waste of resources, this is what the community expects from police.”

But it’s not what people like Dragon expect, people who depend on those substances.

“What am I supposed to do? Suffer in pain? That’s not fair to anyone,” Dragon questioned.

For their part Regina Police are sympathetic to the situation, but that won’t stop them from doing their job.

“I know the value that medical marijuana has for people that have a prescription, but there is a process in place to get that,” Bray said.

Unfortunately, that process doesn’t work for people like Dragon who don’t have credit cards, and can’t afford medicinal cannabis through Health Canada. Instead, illegal storefronts are their only option. It’s expected to remain that way, even after legalization which will mainly focus on cannabis that contains THC; the substance associated with feeling high.

Dragon is part of a subsection of users who don’t enjoy that feeling, and refuse to partake in cannabis that includes THC. For them this is medicinal, it’s not about the psychoactive effects marijuana can have.

“Even with this new law coming, you won’t see [CBD]. It’s just going to be plant based, and they don’t even sell the right plant for me,” Dragon said. “Where does that leave me? Where does that leave thousands of other people? Sitting on the couch, almost in tears.”

Before she discovered CBD, Dragon was prescribed a number of opiates, something she hated.

“They had me on Dilaudid (a hydromorphone), they had me on Zantac, they had me on Valium, all sorts of things. I really don’t want to go back on that,” Dragon said nervously. “The opiates I was on, [I had] major, horrible withdrawals. I ended up in the hospital multiple times because of it.”

Tears welled in her eyes as she continued, “I never used to look like this, I weigh so much, I [gained] so much weight because of the drugs I was on.” Visibly emotional, her voice quivered as she spoke, “I can’t exercise, if it wasn’t for the CBD I would not be standing here today.”

The Best Bud Society said they’ll continue to operate as long as there are people who need medicinal cannabis.

The raids occurred two months after Regina police issued a warning to cannabis dispensaries to close down, or stop the illegal aspects of their business. No charges were laid in last night’s raids, and there are no plans to lay charges on employees, or customers. Bray says charges are pending against store owners, and possibly for landlords. The RPS is still investigating, and is consulting the Federal Crown.

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