Marijuana legalization in Canada may be on the horizon, but in the meantime, the arrests of several people in Edmonton serve to remind retailers the drug is illegal.
Ten people are facing a lengthy list of drug-related charges after Edmonton police busted several illegal cannabis operations around the city. The drug busts happened both this month and in December at four different locations, including two medical marijuana dispensaries.
2 pot shops, 1 home raided
On Feb. 2, 2018, members of the Edmonton police drug and gang enforcement section carried out warrants at three addresses; two commercial and one residential.
Investigators arrived at Smoking J’s Hemp Shop on 156 Street near 109 Avenue to find about $50,000 worth of various cannabis-related items for sale, including marijuana, seeds, oil, shatter, and edibles such as cookies, candies and even dog treats.
Police also searched a home near 108 Avenue and 157 Street, where they found marijuana, shatter, candies and various cannabis-related edibles including chocolate fondue shatter. Police said the estimated street value is more than $78,000.
Police also raided Whyte Cross Dispensary near 107 Street and Whyte Avenue, where they found close to $24,000 in controlled substances, including but not limited to pre-packaged marijuana, cannabis oil, shatter, cannabis edibles and candies.
Edmonton police said two-thirds of the items seized are not set to be legal on July 1, including edibles and shatter.
Charges in February 2018 raids
As a result of the Feb. 2 busts, five people were arrested and charged.
In the raid at the Smoking J’s head shop, several charges were laid against 30-year-old Thomas Hardy, including two counts of trafficking cannabis, possession for the purposes of trafficking, and proceeds of crime over $5,000.
Two people from the home search were charged, but they are not being named in order to protect the identities of children associated with their address.
A man and a woman, both 29 years old, were charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, as well as causing a child to be in need of intervention and causing a child to be drug endangered, both as per the Child Youth and Family Enhancement Act. The man was also charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking under three kilograms and proceeds of crime over $5,000.
As a result of the Whyte Avenue dispensary search, Jessica Saulnier, 33, and Paul Olson, 46, were both charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking. Saulnier was also charged with trafficking cannabis and possession of proceeds under $5,000.
Charges in December 2017 dispensary raid
Edmonton police have also charged five other people after investigators raided The Medi Joint, a cannabis dispensary located on 109 Street, just south of Whyte Avenue, back in December. About $100,000 of product was seized.
Jacqueline Oakes, 38, Melanie Robertson, 36, Tammy McMillan, 28, and 42-year-old David Tiefenbach were all charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and proceeds of crime over $5,000. An arrest warrant was also issued for 32-year-old Christopher Sawden.
Tiefenbach, who owns the south Edmonton business, spoke to Global News after his store was raided on Dec. 13. The store sold cannabis products only to patients with prescriptions from a doctor.
Edmonton police say they will continue to enforce current marijuana laws until they are changed.
Tiefenbach said the raid bothers him, calling it a “waste of time.” He said he talked to police officers and city officials before opening and wanted his store to act as the model for marijuana dispensaries once cannabis is legalized.
WATCH: Edmonton police are cracking down on cannabis dispensaries, saying marijuana legalization may be on the way but it isn’t here yet. The operations have some in the budding industry upset. Fletcher Kent reports. (Dec. 21, 2018.)
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