There is no better evidence of the change in attitudes about marijuana than the forbearance demonstrated by the Winnipeg Police Service in connection with a man who is openly selling pot from a storefront operation.

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This article was published 21/7/2015 (2537 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Editorial

There is no better evidence of the change in attitudes about marijuana than the forbearance demonstrated by the Winnipeg Police Service in connection with a man who is openly selling pot from a storefront operation.

The police service issued a news release Monday saying it would not tolerate the lawless conduct of Glenn Price, who has been selling what he calls medical marijuana even though he is not licensed by Health Canada and his product has not been acquired from authorized government dispensers.

That’s some 22 days after Mr. Price announced to the world he was selling pot to customers with a prescription from a doctor. The police response back then was he should stop selling drugs.

There was no threat of enforcement against the entrepreneur, who has a civic occupancy permit and permission to carry out his illegal business from the landlord. The provincial companies branch was also aware what he was up to.

In pure legal terms, he’s a drug trafficker (a term police would not have hesitated to use a decade ago) — but times have changed.

Instead of raiding Mr. Price’s Main Street establishment, Your Medical Cannabis Headquarters, when he started selling to customers on July 1, police simply ignored the problem.

On Monday, however, police threatened to "respond appropriately" if Mr. Price continued to flaunt the law. The only thing missing from the news release was a line saying, "We really mean it this time."

The lackadaisical response was a tacit acknowledgment that even law enforcement no longer considers pot to be a dangerous drug that will produce insanity or mayhem in all who use it.

The Harper government, however, is stuck in a time warp, resisting the tide of history that is leading to decriminalization or legalization.

The Conservatives have pressured police in other cities where similar pot dispensaries are operating, but they haven’t had the success they would like.

In Vancouver, for example, police have refused a federal request to crack down on the owner of 11 stores that dispense marijuana in the same way as Mr. Price. They said they have more important work to do.

Meanwhile, the smell of marijuana wafted inside and out of Mr. Price’s business Tuesday, where protesters had gathered to protect the business if police showed up. The cops didn’t come — they don’t like unnecessary confrontations in front of the media — but they are likely to show up sometime in the near future with a warrant.

The big question is whether they will merely seize his product and charge him with a minor offence or throw the book at him with a charge of possession of marijuana for the purpose or trafficking.

Either way, Mr. Price says he intends to continue pursuing what he considers a mission of mercy.

People who want marijuana because of a medical condition claim it takes too long to get it through official channels and the product is inferior and often ineffective.

Lawyers like to say weak cases make bad laws. With that in mind, the Crown may want to be careful about how it proceeds against Mr. Price.

The Supreme Court of Canada has already shown some sympathy for medical marijuana users, ruling recently they could use the drug as an oil, tea or other edible product.

Health Canada ignored the ruling until earlier this month, when it decided licensed producers can sell derivative products.

Like the failed abortion prosecutions of the early 1980s, police and the Crown may find juries and judges are loathe to jail citizens who are dispensing marijuana to people with a doctor’s prescription, particularly when the evidence would show Ottawa is incompetent and obstructionist in carrying out the task.

It’s time to change the law and end this persecution of pot users.