Saskatoon councillors vote against business licences for marijuana dispensaries

A City of Saskatoon committee has made it much more difficult for marijuana dispensaries to open in the city.

Administrators say storefront marijuana operations not allowed under federal law

Saskatchewan Compassion Club owner Mark Hauk outside of the Saskatoon Police Station. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

A City of Saskatoon committee has made it much more difficult for marijuana dispensaries to open in the city.

Today, the Standing Policy Committee on Planning, Development and Community Services voted against issuing business licences to marijuana dispensaries.

Administration argued that medical marijuana falls under federal jurisdiction, and anyone involved with it must get a federal licence.

It also said that the City of Saskatoon should only issue a business licence to the dispensary if it receives federal approval.

"The law is the law and that's just the way it is," said Councillor Troy Davies. "And as soon as you start stepping outside of those boundaries or looking grey areas it's going to set precedence to do other things in grey areas."

Saskatchewan Compassion Club owner Mark Hauk was disappointed in the committee's decision. He said many patients have trouble getting their medical marijuana, and the compassion club was created to help them.

"It's not just me telling stories anymore," he said. "We've heard from them, seen them. They're suffering."

Hauk wanted council to operate in a "grey area" much like the city of Vancouver does. This summer, Vancouver city council voted to regulate the over 100 medical marijuana dispensaries in their city. 

Marijuana seized from Compassion Club in Saskatoon. (Saskatoon Police Service)
They're suffering," said Hauk. "So, yes, it seems like a bold and maybe unachievable suggestion, but I guess that's exactly what's on the table.

In October, four people linked to the compassion club were arrested, including Hauk, and face a number of charges, including drug trafficking.

Hauk officially shut the physical compassion club down last week, but has already reorganized and is offering advice online.

The committee's decision will need to be approved by city council.

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