Most charges dropped in Saskatoon marijuana dispensary case

Crown prosecutors have dropped most charges against the Saskatchewan Compassion Club after a raid two years ago.

Police raided Saskatchewan Compassion Club in October 2015

Saskatchewan Compassion Club owner Mark Hauk (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Crown prosecutors have dropped charges against individuals tied to the Saskatchewan Compassion Club after a raid two years ago.

Police raided the Saskatoon organization in October 2015. Marijuana was seized from the club and it was eventually closed down.

Founder Mark Hauk and two others were charged with trafficking marijuana and cannabis resin, and possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

Thursday morning, prosecutors announced all charges against the individuals will be dropped.

The Saskatchewan Compassion Club company has agreed to plead guilty to one count of trafficking and will be fined $6,500.

Club 1st of its kind in Saskatoon

Mark Hauk re-opened the Saskatchewan Compassion Club in Saskatoon even after the October 2015 raid. (Devin Heroux/CBC News)
The club opened up in August of 2015 and was the first of its kind in the city.

Saskatoon police had previously warned Hauk that the club would be closed down if it was found to be breaking the law.

Health Canada had also warned the dispensary that if it did not cease and desist activity, it would refer the file to the RCMP.

Hauk tried in vain to get a business licence from the City of Saskatoon, frequently appearing before Saskatoon city council. His request was eventually denied.

The charges ignited debate in Saskatoon, especially since the Liberal government announced plans to legalize pot. 

In the two years since his arrest, Hauk remained confident that his constitutional challenge will eventually quash those charges. He said with the Canadian government's plan to legalize pot, it's "hypocritical" for police across the country to keep charging people with pot-related offences. 

'All about creating and improving access'

Outside of court, Hauk said it's been a long two years and he's grateful the process has now come to a close.

"It's obviously been a long time coming — about two years and a week till today and a lot of time and money and energy — but obviously we're pleased with the outcome," Hauk said. 

He said if lawyers hadn't come to an agreement Thursday, he would have moved forward with his planned constitutional challenge early next year. 

In the intervening years since the raid, numerous marijuana dispensaries have cropped up in Regina and Saskatoon. Hauk said that's a good thing because his fight was always about making sure people had proper access to marijuana. 

"This is all about creating and improving access," he said. 

After the raid on the club, Hauk moved his company to Victoria and had been serving its members via mail order. 

He said with Thursday's rulings, there's a chance a new store front will open in Saskatoon.

"Stay tuned," he said. 

Police satisfied

In a news release, the Saskatoon police service said it was happy that the Saskatchewan Compassion Club pleaded guilty to trafficking.

"Our service is pleased that the case has reached a conclusion and we hope that it will send a message to anyone who plans to operate illegal marijuana dispensaries," read a news release.

Police went on to state that any dispensaries not approved by Health Canada are breaking the law and are a risk to public safety.


Charles Hamilton is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon.