News / Edmonton

What's the matter with shatter? Marijuana derivative sparks debate

Police and users are squaring off on the potent marijuana concentrate

While marijuana generally has a THC level of 12-15 per cent, shatter can have levels of the psychoactive ingredient up to 90 per cent, RCMP say.

File photo

While marijuana generally has a THC level of 12-15 per cent, shatter can have levels of the psychoactive ingredient up to 90 per cent, RCMP say.

Alberta police are sounding the alarm about a trending drug that one user says is crucial to her well being.

St. Albert RCMP announced last Thursday they had seized 49 grams of the highly concentrated marijuana derivative “shatter” from a home in Fleetwood Crescent, where they also seized more than 100 grams of marijuana.

They arrested two men during the seizure, made on April 21 following an extensive investigation.

“As shatter is so highly concentrated, it is important that residents recognize it and be educated about its risks so everyone can be a part of keeping our community safe,” RCMP said in a press release.

Mounties describe shatter as a “highly potent” marijuana derivative that is hard and toffee-like in appearance.

While marijuana generally has a THC level of 12-15 per cent, shatter can have levels of the psychoactive ingredient up to 90 per cent, RCMP say.

Edmonton Police Service drug expert Det. Guy Pilon said shatter started showing up about three years ago in Edmonton and police have been seeing more of it this year.

He said police have concerns about the making of the drug, in which butane is often used to extract the THC from marijuana plant leftovers – a process also called "dabbing" – which can cause explosions.

United Cannabis Coalition President Donna Mackenzie has said shatter, a marijuana derivative, said the concentrate is the only thing that helper her in her cancer recovery.

File photo

United Cannabis Coalition President Donna Mackenzie has said shatter, a marijuana derivative, said the concentrate is the only thing that helper her in her cancer recovery.

“We have concerns with the potency, and we have concerns with people trying to make it in their homes, because it tends to be explosive,” Pilon said.

But one Edmonton woman said shatter has been crucial in her recovery from cancer.

Donna Mackenzie, president of the United Cannabis Coalition, had cancer of the esophagus in 2012 and went through chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery to remove her throat and most of her stomach.

“It wasn’t until I found shatter and the concentrates that I was able to eat again, after all the stuff that the cancer caused,” Mackenzie told Metro.

She said the high concentration of THC is exactly what has helped her overcome nausea and loss of appetite.

“It’s been a year and a half, and I’ve gone from 99 pounds to 160 pounds. It’s been amazing, the difference. And I’m out and I’m active and I’m living again," she said. "It’s really exciting, actually. I highly recommend it.”

Mackenzie has a medical cannabis card to purchase from licensed producers, but they don’t sell shatter.

It was her son, an employee at a Victoria, B.C. dispensary, who first suggested she tried it. Now, she has travel back and forth to dispensaries in Victoria because she doesn’t want to buy it on the street in Edmonton.

Mackenzie said the problem is not the drug itself, but the fact that it’s illegal and unregulated.

“It’s really hurting patients, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

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