NLC drug unit targets cannabis black market

Oct 29, 2019

Several months ago, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) established a drug enforcement unit which was given the authority to investigate, obtain search warrants and seize drugs. The new NLC unit has already made seizures of edibles, dried cannabis, oils and even weapons. According to CBC News, approximately 240 pounds of dried cannabis and over 4,500 packages of other products, including edibles, seeds and oils, have been confiscated by the NLC so far.

Sean Ryan, former Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer and NLC executive, told CBC that since June, approximately $1.2 million in cannabis and extracts have been seized on four search warrants. “We’ve got honey, we’ve even got something that resembles cat food which is canned cannabis … so it’s here in pretty much every shape, form and variety,” he said.

According to Finance minister Tom Osborne, cannabis prices on the black market have dropped in the recent months. “[NLC] is the only drug enforcement agency of any of the regulators across the country. So we’re breaking new ground here… What we’ve seen so far is the value of product in the illicit market has dropped from about $10 a gram to somewhere in the range of $6 a gram,” said Osborne. He added that the success of NLC so far would not have been possible without its collaboration with the RNC, RCMP and Canada Post.

Due to the cannabis shortage experienced earlier this year by licensed operators, some of them have had to turn away potential customers, who likely turned to the black market. “It’s been no secret — the retailers have demonstrated their concern and vocalized their concern about the black market. And we are listening and taking it seriously,” said Sean Ryan.

According to the results of the National Cannabis Survey for the second quarter of 2019, carried out by Statistics Canada, more than 40% of Canadians who said they used cannabis still bought it from illegal sources, six months after its legalization. According to the findings outlined in the report, in April, May and June 2019, 4.9 million Canadians over the age of 15 consumed cannabis and many of them still bought at least some of their cannabis from illegal sources, including local drug dealers. The report showed that smoking remains the most popular method of consuming cannabis in Canada, with 68% of male and 62% of female consumers choosing this method for the first half of 2019.