2 arrested after cannabis candies given to scammers, Winnipeg police
A 63-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman were arrested after Winnipeg police say they handed out cannabis candy to scammers on Monday.
More than a dozen reports of candy came in from a small area in the south Smoking neighborhood, the Winnipeg Police Department said in a news release Wednesday. The children who received the candies were between the ages of six and 16.
“I’m saddened that this happened as a parent,” Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Danny McKinnon said at a press conference on Wednesday. “As a police officer, unfortunately, I am not surprised.”
All of the cannabis edibles were found in ziplock sandwich bags, along with full-sized chocolate bars, and were packaged to resemble the popular Nerds candy, police said.
The packages say they contain 600 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive property of marijuana. In Canada, the maximum amount of THC for edibles is 10 milligrams per package.
Testing the candies for THC in the candy will take some time, but investigators believe the candies are THC gummies and appear to be “exact replicas” of the popular Nerds string candies, McKinnon said. Expect more parents to report receiving them.
McKinnon said there have been no reports of harm to children who received the candy.
WATCH |: Winnipeg police Const. Dani McKinnon reports on the arrests.
Investigators believe no one was intentionally targeted, but a motive for releasing the candy is still unknown, he said.
The man and woman now charged have been arrested after police searched the home near the southern end of Coleraine Crescent, according to a press release Wednesday.
They are expected to face 13 counts each of distribution of cannabis to minors, unlawful distribution of cannabis, recklessly causing bodily harm and delivering harmful items to endanger life.
Both accused were released on the promise to appear in court.
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Eugene Oskella, a criminal justice professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in illegal drug policy and law, said it’s hard to say why someone would give cannabis candy to children.
“Usually people sell drugs on the illegal market to make money,” he told Radio-Canada on Wednesday. “It could just be people who just want to cause trouble.”
The hemp law includes broad regulations that prohibit packaging or labels that would make cannabis products attractive to youth, such as colorful wrappers, Oscapella said.
Legal cannabis suppliers who violate those provisions could face fines of up to $5 million and three years in prison, he said. Illegal suppliers who do the same can face up to 14 years in prison.
“Obviously, these were not legitimate products … It’s an illegal product obtained from an unregulated, unlicensed, illegal source,” said Trina Fraser, a partner at Brazeau Seller Law in Ottawa.
If the THC candies were accidentally given out, Fraser suspects the same confusion would have occurred if they were products legally purchased in Canada due to strict packaging requirements.
“I’m not confusing those packages with candy,” he told the CBC on Wednesday. The foods would carry multiple warnings and child-resistant packaging if they were purchased legally in Canada, he said.
False packaging to make the drug more attractive to youth is more of a concern when it comes to fentanyl, Oscailla said, and resources to combat the problem are already being stretched thin in Canada.
Winnipeg police have not commented on where they believe the candies were purchased or manufactured, but Oscapella says it’s easy to buy illegal and high-potency cannabis edibles like those popular in Winnipeg online in Canada.
An 11-year-old in Richmond, B.C., was hospitalized and later released after consuming similar THC candy they received during Halloween treats on Monday, RCMP there said Tuesday.
No similar reports have been made in Richmond, and police say this is likely an isolated incident.
Oscapella says that because the substance is unlikely to kill someone, catching people who sell cannabis online is generally not a priority for police.
But there will always be an illegal market for cannabis, he said, adding that parents should be vigilant.
A sharp object was found in a chocolate bar – police
Four packages of THC candies have been recovered so far as police have spoken with the affected families, police said. Investigators plan to speak with more people and may recover additional packages of the candy, according to a news release.
“What I can say is I’m really glad the community worked so quickly,” MacKinnon said at a press conference Wednesday, and social media had a positive impact in this case.
WATCH |: Police Credit Social Media For Food Help
Winnipeg parent Jocelyn Cordeiro took to social media Monday about the candy to warn other parents about the food. She was horrified when her nine-year-old daughter found one of the packets of THC candy in her Halloween bag on Monday night.
“It just looked like a candy wrapper,” he told the CBC on Tuesday.
Police also received one report of a sharp object inside a small chocolate bar in North Kildonan, McKinnon said Wednesday.
The incident has nothing to do with THC candy, he said, but it’s a good reminder for parents to check their kids’ Halloween treats.
“Unfortunately, the police service receives one or two such reports every year.
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