News / Edmonton

Police shut down two cannabis dispensaries in south Edmonton

Now several people now face drug-related charges

The Medi Joint on 109 Street has been shut down.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

The Medi Joint on 109 Street has been shut down.

It’s not legal yet.

Police sent out a stern warning Thursday after shutting down two cannabis dispensaries in south Edmonton – including one that required prescriptions for purchase – and making several arrests.

“We want the owners and employees of these illegal cannabis operations to be aware that they’re breaking the law, and that we’ll continue to enforce that law until such time those laws are changed,” said Edmonton Police Service Insp. Shane Perka.

On Nov. 30, officers found about 100 marijuana plants being grown in a facility near 46 Avenue and 101 Street, which they believe was the site of a “sophisticated distribution centre” that sold products online. They charged two people in connection with the bust.

On Dec. 13, officers executed warrants at a storefront location on 109 Street and 78 Avenue, where they seized "large quantities" of cannabis products, including edibles, and charged five people.

The storefront location required customers to show a prescription before selling, but was not selling according to Health Canada regulations.

“I’m convinced that several of the customers attending that location, the way it was set up, truly believed that it was a legitimate, regulated dispensary when in fact it wasn’t,” Perka said.

The MEDi Joint, located at 7809 109 St., has 12 Google Reviews with a perfect five-star rating.

"You were helping so many people," one customer wrote.

A post written as a “response from the owner” one week ago said the facility “will be closed until further notice,” adding it “was not our choice and is due to the decisions of the powers that be.”

Danial Schecter, co-founder of the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic, said illegal dispensaries and clinics are not uncommon.

“In some places, the police are playing whack-a-mole. They get shut down, they get opened up the next day somewhere else or under a different name,” he said.

Schecter’s Toronto-based chain of legal medical cannabis clinics, which has a downtown Edmonton location, offers the drug from licensed producers to patients who meet requirements and have been referred by a physician.

He said it’s important for customers to know the difference between legal and illegal operations.

The only legal way for clinics to provide medical cannabis is to obtain it through the mail from producers that are licensed by Health Canada.

“If they walk into a store or walk into something that is called a clinic, and they’re being supplied product in person, that is right away an illegal dispensary,” Schecter said.

He added that most of his patients come in to treat chronic pain, and many are looking to cut back on opioids they’ve been prescribed.

He said it’s important for the patient to get a proper recommendation with input from their physician, and to get a regulated product that has been tested for contaminants and has accurately measured CBD and THC levels.

Police say dispensaries operating without Health Canada authorization could be found in contravention of various laws, including: Trafficking a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking, Possession of the proceeds of crime, and Production of a Controlled Substance (where an illegal grow operation is found on the premises).

In a year-end interview with Metro Wednesday, Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht said police were "not really focused on marijuana" since the federal government announced its intent to legalize the drug by July 2018.

More on