Article by Solomon Israel, Leaf News
The federal minister who administers Canada’s cannabis legalization law says Ottawa is well-aware of the proliferation of illegal online stores, but black market enforcement falls to individual police forces across the country.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair, who was made responsible for the Cannabis Act in November, made the comments Friday at the Manitoba legislature.
“I am aware of the challenge of the illicit online (cannabis) sales, and frankly that is the responsibility of our policing authorities, both federal, provincial and municipal, to do that work,” said Blair, who was in Winnipeg to announce federal funding to address gun and gang violence in Manitoba.
“I have great confidence in that work. And one of the things that we have been doing is making significant new investments to increase their capacity and their effectiveness in addressing that concern.”
Asked specifically whether Ottawa knows how many illegal online cannabis dispensaries are operating in Canada, Blair said the government is “aware of the existence of several.”
“There are a number of those organizations which are already the subject of attention, but I don’t have the precise number of what those are,” he said. “But again, I have every confidence in the capacity of law enforcement to address that, based on their priorities and their allocation of resources.”
Law enforcement priorities are the catch, according to Travis Lane, a Victoria-based organic cannabis grower who used to operate an illicit online cannabis dispensary. (It’s now closed, and Lane is applying for a cannabis cultivation licence under the legal regime.)
“The will to prosecute cannabis distributors in British Columbia is not very high,” he said.
Lane estimates there are more than 100 unlicensed online marijuana dispensaries operating in Canada, with the vast majority of them sourcing and shipping product from B.C.