Cannabis-Related Charges Almost Disappear From Calgary Police Statistics

Article by Bill Kaufmann, Canada.com

Cannabis-related charges almost disappear from city police statistics Cynthia Wong smokes cannabis during '420 day' in downtown Calgary at Olympic Plaza on Friday, April 20, 2018. She has been smoking for 19 years and has a medical card to for pain control and insomnia. Jim Wells/Postmedia While cannabis-related matters have taken up much less of the Calgary Police Service's time, licensed sellers are asking for a crackdown on illicit online sales. A Calgary drug dealer who dubs himself Medi Man has been handing out samples of cannabis bud in a tiny baggie stapled to a business card offering various grades of pot and its derivatives, including edibles, to store customers.

Some city police cannabis law enforcement statistics have fallen nearly 100 per cent since recreational legalization of the drug took effect, according to numbers collected by the CPS.

At the same time, legal cannabis retailers are calling for governments to crack down on at least the most visible illicit competition – a plethora of black marketers who blatantly sell cannabis products online.

In the six months from last October through March, 2019, city police recorded 20 instances involving cannabis where the drug offence was the most serious part of the incident.

The seven incidents occurring in the first three months of this year are 94 per cent below the five-year average for such offences.

In contrast, incidents involving crystal meth during that time period hit 170, or 163 per cent over the five-year average.

Nobody in the CPS was available to comment but last February, Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant of the service’s drug unit told Postmedia the service is still targeting cannabis offenders, including local online dealers.

But some of those in the legal cannabis sector say they’d hoped police forces would have taken more decisive action against those openly flouting the law online and undercutting their considerable investment.

“It’s a massive thing and we want to work to address this,” said Michelle Russell of the Alberta Cannabis Council (ACC) which represents retailers and licensed producers.

She noted legal retailers in Alberta are forbidden from operating online, while their illicit counterparts do so openly on professionally-created websites that look legitimate.

“You have an illicit black market operating online — our retailers would need to do that to compete,” said Russell.

Retailer Nathan Mison said it’ll likely take three levels of government to seriously reduce the amount of overt black market cannabis dealers.

“Our hopes would be they’d crack down on some of the illegal players online,” said Mison, who sits on the ACC board.

“It was definitely our hope.”

One illicit seller said his business in the city has never been better.

“Things have picked up a lot,” said Greg, who operates a web-based dial-a-dope business known as Medi Man.

“The website’s rolling, there’s been really big growth — it’s ridiculous, it won’t settle down.”

There’s not much likelihood of a crackdown by government agencies that don’t see much of a return in it, said Greg, who added police have been in contact with him in the past.

“They’re not going to cost taxpayers money and court time,” he said.

Read the full article here.

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