SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Advocates for medical marijuana are denouncing a series of police raids in Saint John on cannabis dispensaries in the city.

Six stores were raided by officers from the Saint John city police and nearby forces on Tuesday and 12 people were charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, echoing earlier raids in Halifax, Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere.

City police chief John Bates has said the dispensaries are operating illegally and police cannot "hypothesize" what the Liberal government will do with their marijuana legislation, or when they will do it.

However, the group Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana Society said on Wednesday in a news release that a Federal Court decision suggests the dispensaries are operating within the bounds of the law.

Chris Rideout, the chair of the society, says in the release that many licensed users of medical marijuana rely on the dispensaries to access their marijuana.

Ottawa is expected to table legislation in the spring to legalize marijuana, while a federal task force has recommended that sales be allowed to Canadians 18 years and older.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month Ottawa is moving "properly and responsibly" to legalize marijuana, but the current law governing cannabis will stand until new legislation is ratified.