Montreal police concerned with prevalence of illicit cannabis candies following provincial ban of legal edibles

Police in Montreal say they are concerned with illicit cannabis infused candy they have seized in recent months, according to a report in La Presse. Quebec banned legal cannabis edibles in 2019 to keep them away from young people.

The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), the municipal police service for the city of Montreal, released images to the publication recently, showing products branded with well known names like Skittles and Nerds that are often sold online. Manon Dupont, head of the ACCESS (Action concertée contre l’économie souterraine) cannabis squad of the SPVM says their concern is with the potential appeal the packaging could have on children.

Quebec banned cannabis edibles in the legal market in late 2019, just as the products became legal federally. They also raised the age of access from 18 to 21, citing an interest in protecting young people from cannabis. 

“We really want to protect our teenagers, which are most vulnerable to cannabis,” Lionel Carmant, Quebec’s junior health minister, said at the time.

When the bill was first proposed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others criticized the move as simply handing the cannabis market for young people over to the illicit market

“It brings up questions, that this week an 18-year-old could go buy cannabis legally, but in a few months may have to go to the Hells Angels to buy it. Those are questions the government will have to answer to,” Trudeau said.

Unregulated cannabis products—like the cannabis-infused candies in their report—shows that accessing illicit cannabis is much easier through the unregulated market, which has no age gates or ID requirements like legal stores have. 

La Press reports that between April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, SPVM ACCESS investigators dealt with 236 cases of illicit cannabis production or trafficking. Between April 1, 2020 and December 17, only 198 such cases were handled since the beginning of the fiscal year, a downward trend attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The candies shown in the report use packaging and branding that closely mimics the real candy products, although it has Triangle and exclamation point THC logos used in the state of California. Such products can easily be found online on Canadian websites that offer delivery, with no age gating or ID check. 

In October of 2020, the SPVM say they carried out 17 searches in the Montreal area, seizing, among other things, 1,149 cannabis plants, and nearly 500 lbs of cannabis, as well as other drugs like cocaine, MDMA and psilocybin.

It’s unclear how many, if any, raids have been conducted by police in Quebec against illicit online sellers like those they say are providing the previously mentioned cannabis candies.

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