Manitoba

Police raids send message to Winnipeg pot shops: Weed isn't legal yet

Pot isn't legal yet, and Winnipeg police appear to have made that fact loud and clear after raiding two dispensaries last week.

Winnipeg Compassion Club ends operations after 3 men charged

Police raids on Winnipeg pot shops

CBC News Manitoba

3 years agoVideo
1:49
Pot isn't legal yet, and Winnipeg police appear to have made that fact loud and clear after raiding two dispensaries last week. Police raided two Winnipeg Compassion Club shops last Monday on McPhillips Street and Pembina Highway, seizing approximately $25,000 worth of pot, $20,000 of the plant in alternative forms and $6,000 in cash. 1:49

Pot isn't legal yet, and Winnipeg police appear to have made that fact loud and clear after raiding two dispensaries last week.

Police raided two Winnipeg Compassion Club shops last Monday on McPhillips Street and Pembina Highway, seizing approximately $25,000 worth of pot, $20,000 of the plant in alternative forms and $6,000 in cash. 

Photos of pot edibles including chocolate bars, gummy bears and suckers were included in a police news release on Wednesday morning. (Winnipeg Police handout)
Three men, aged 45, 28, and 27, have been charged with numerous drug offences as well possession of proceeds of crime. They have been released with court-ordered appearances set.

The club's Facebook page says it is "no longer open." Neil Kaplan, a lawyer for the club, has told CBC News he plans to vigorously challenge the allegations and his client would comment in the near future on the matter. 

Police say the raids, which came after a months-long investigation, yielded a number of items that could put young children at "significant medical risk." A news release from police about the raids included photos of pot edibles such as chocolate bars, gummy bears and suckers. 

"They're things that would be very enticing to a child and potentially medically disastrous for a child, so really it's about public safety," said Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver.

'It lacks common sense'

Kirk Kirby has used marijuana for about a decade to help deal with pain caused by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease — a form of muscular dystrophy. He said the club's shutdown will be a problem for people like him.

"I'm feeling a little bit aggravated and a little bit sick because you're left wondering in the end where you're going to source medicine from."

He said he has a licence to grow marijuana but had issues growing it himself, so he turned to the Compassion Club for help. He's disappointed to see it closed.

"It lacks common sense when legalization is around the corner."

Cannabis advocate Steven Stairs said he wasn't surprised by the raids but hoped there would have been a moratorium on cannabis-related arrests with legalization coming to Canada this year. (CBC)
Winnipeg cannabis advocate Steven Stairs said he wasn't surprised by the raids but hoped there would have been a moratorium on cannabis-related arrests with legalization coming to Canada this year.

Stairs said the public will have to wait for the facts about what was going on inside the shops to come out in court.

"Some people really don't deserve to be arrested, don't deserve to have criminal records and be excluded from the cannabis industry, and some people we need to have weeded out."

Police say pot taken in criminal investigations is never medical grade and often has contaminants that can pose significant health risks.

About the Author

​Austin Grabish landed his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. In 2019, he was on the ground in northern Manitoba covering the manhunt for B.C. fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, which attracted international attention. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca

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