On Monday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia raided Timberleaf Alternative Medical Society, an unauthorized cannabis shop. As a result of the raid, police seized what they say is over $60,000 worth of cannabis products, including edibles shaped like Lego blocks. In a statement announcing the raid, Nova Scotia RCMP said that the Lego-shaped edibles contained 500 mg of THC and claimed that this dosage was potent enough to kill a child. The police statement also railed against Canada’s unauthorized cannabis sellers. But after drawing criticism for its lethal dose comment, Nova Scotia police ultimately retracted their official statement to remove those comments.
500mg Edibles Seized “Could Be Fatal Dose for a Child,” Police Claim
Across Canada, law enforcement agencies have been trying to drive out the unlicensed cannabis industry, and they’re largely focusing their efforts on shutting down unauthorized retailers. Prior to Canada’s national legalization of adult-use cannabis in 2018, unlicensed cannabis shops were something of an open secret, and for the most part, tolerated. But now that Canada has a legal and regulated cannabis industry, police are taking a zero-tolerance approach toward unlicensed operators.
Hence, Monday’s raid of the St. Margaret’s Bay Road storefront of Timberleaf Alternative Medical Society. During the raid, police seized $60,000 worth of product, including high-potency edibles.
Edibles are not currently available on Canada’s legal cannabis market. Officials are expected to release guidance and regulations authorizing the sale of edibles later this year. But so far, unlicensed retailers are the only storefront sources for edibles.
As a result, edibles available at unauthorized sellers are not legal— or regulated. And that means they can be extremely potent. For example, Nova Scotia police say they seized Lego block-shaped edibles containing 500 mg of THC. By comparison, Health Canada is recommending province’s adopt a 5 mg per dose limit for edibles and caps for total THC in a single package.
500 mg is a potent edible, especially for something the size of a 4×2 Lego. But in the news release, police made the false claim that “Lego shaped blocks of very potent THC, in excess of 500 mg was offered for sale and this could be a fatal dose for a child.”
Marijuana consumption has never been the direct cause of a fatality, regardless of age. There is no documented evidence of a fatal cannabis overdose.
RCMP Retract Rant About Canada’s Unauthorized Cannabis Shops
Cannabis overdoses can’t kill you. But they can be very unpleasant, and some people experience cardiac and respiratory distress, psychological symptoms like paranoia, anxiety and other side-effects. But even with these symptoms, cannabis overdoses rarely require medical intervention. According to pediatric cannabis specialist Bonni Goldstein, most cases simply involving monitoring a child’s vital signs and waiting for the effects of THC to naturally wear off.
It wasn’t long before Nova Scotia RCMP began facing backlash over its claim that a 500 mg dose edible could kill a child.
But selling deadly edibles wasn’t the only charge police made against Timberleaf in their statement. They also accused the shop of profiteering, tax evasion and of manufacturing product offerings in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. The statement went on to accuse Timberleaf of lying to customers by using the word “Medical” in its name and of marketing edibles to minors, because of their Lego shape.
The 500-word statement even chastised customers of unauthorized sellers, accusing them of supporting the “black market” and endangering those living in their vicinity with bombing, robberies and other crimes.
But on Wednesday, Nova Scotia RCMP retracted most of their rant against unauthorized cannabis shops, including the claim about child-killing high-potency edibles. Apologizing for “the confusion” the release caused, RCMP said they took measures “to address the liberties that were taken in the release.”
Police have charged two men in connection with the raid for violating the Cannabis Control Act.