No apologies from Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill on Compassion Club bust and street checks

Police Chief Clive Weighill defended a controversial bust and an even-more controversial police practise.

Public response strong on both issues

Marijuana seized in Compassion Club raid. (CBC)

Police Chief Clive Weighill is unapologetic about officers busting a medical marijuana outlet this year.

And he said police will continue stopping people on the street when cops think they look suspicious.

The Compassion Club raid, and police street checks, both emerged as flashpoint issues for Saskatoon police in 2015.

Weighill is standing by his choices

"The Compassion Club was very open on what they were going to do," Weighill said in an interview.

"They were telling everybody they were going to be selling marijuana, even though they knew it was illegal."

Weighill said the openness of the business plan is what forced the police hand. It didn't matter that the club's owner, and a vocal chunk of the public, believed the Compassion Club supplied a vital service to sick people.

No apologies from Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill. (CBC)
It was a red flag that could not be ignored.

"When you have an organization in the city here that is allegedly buying marijuana illegally, selling marijuana illegally, profiting from that sale, I think the time has to come when we have to take the appropriate action under the laws of Canada."

'People had the idea it was going to be a free-for-all'

The trouble for police came from the shifting political landscape. The bust happened just as the country changed prime ministers, and Weighill said people read too much into the election of Justin Trudeau.

"I think people had the idea it was going to be a free-for-all," he said.

"I don't think they were really listening to what the future prime minister was saying. He was saying they were going to legalize it, but there would certainly be a regulatory framework around the sale of marijuana."

Weighill said he expected the strong public response to the bust, but he didn't expect to see the backlash to street checks.

This is the practice of police people stopping and questioning people when officers believe the circumstances may be suspicious.

Weighill says it's fundamental to policing.

Critics said it was racial profiling. They alleged that the majority of the stops involved First Nations individuals, because they were First Nations.

Weighill denied the charge, but said a compromise needs to be reached.

"Surely, nobody thinks the police shouldn't be stopping and checking people out under suspicious circumstances. And yet, police shouldn't be taking advantage of their authority to do it, either," he said.