A B.C. grandfather is questioning when it’s appropriate to offer cannabis prizes in raffles after his eight-year-old grandson bid on and won a stash of $200 worth of pot products at a local youth hockey tournament.
Keith Redl said his grandson plays Novice hockey with other children ages seven and eight at Dawson Creek Minor Hockey.
But at a tournament over the weekend, a long-time tradition of fundraising took a turn, he said.
“Each team is usually responsible for putting a gift basket or prize package together with a minimum value of $50,” he said in a phone interview. “And then what they do is they have a big setup and they have a paper bag taped in front of each one of these prizes.”
He said the prizes had always been geared towards kids or families in the past, including things such as tickets to the movies, card games or family board games, or snacks like popcorn and candy.
Redl said that his son, who had taken his grandson to the tournament, spent $10 on raffle tickets, and then gave them to the eight-year-old to bid on whichever prizes he liked.
When it came to the prize pack that Redl’s grandson would eventually win, “all he saw was like chocolate and chocolate fondue and he put a ticket in this bag.
“And then at the end of the tournament (…) (the family) was notified that he won the one prize and it was this prize of $200 worth of pot.”
The child’s father was the one who picked up the prize after receiving the call informing him of the win. He then sent photos of the haul to Redl.
The pictures show various chocolate edibles, vanilla chai and other pot products -- all stamped with the red, octagonal THC symbol of legal cannabis. There was also what appeared to be a pipe and a lighter included.
The $200 estimate comes from the advertising on the bag, he said.
Redl said that when they had to explain to his grandson that the prize contained drugs, and that he therefore couldn’t have any of it, “he was mad.”
“My grandson thought he won a great prize,” Redl said. “‘Dad, I won chocolate!’ ‘No, son, there’s bad drugs in the chocolate.’ How do you explain that to a kid?”
However, the Dawson Creek Minor Hockey Association said in a statement provided to CTVNews.ca that the prize was clearly marked as for adults, and that the cannabis was never out in the open where kids were.
“Amongst a number of prizes donated was a basket of cannabis products,” they wrote. “The products did not appear on the donation table, only a photo and list of the items contained in the basket.
“The raffle winner was told the basket contained cannabis products and was given the option of not accepting the prize,” the statement said, referring to Redl’s adult son, who had picked up the prize. “The winner chose to take the prize, their identification was checked to ensure they were of legal age (19+), and the donor then delivered the basket to the winners.”
The statement went on to say that they had reviewed the policies of B.C. Hockey and the Standard Procedures for ticket raffles of the B.C. Gaming and Policy Branch, and did not find any rules barring cannabis as a raffle prize.
“It was not our intention to upset any of the attendees at the event,” the organization said in the statement. “The tournament is organized by volunteers and their objective is to have a fun tournament and raise money for DCMHA to allow hockey to be more affordable and more inclusive.”
It’s not good enough for Redl, who called the situation “ludicrous.”
He said that while drugs should never be at any sporting event, it was even more upsetting to have them available as a prize at an event geared at children, regardless of whether the prize pack was only intended for adults.
“I was a policeman for 32 years and you (…) try to protect people from stuff and then your eight-year-old grandson brings up running into this, it’s just ridiculous,” he said. He believes clearer rules need to be set up to prevent this from happening.
“There is no place for drugs at a child's hockey tournament.”
The Dawson Creek Minor Hockey Association said that they appreciate the concerns being brought forth.
“We are currently updating our policies to ensure that going forward our charitable events are in keeping with our policies and government policies,” they wrote.