Hamilton Police arrest man in investigation of synthetic marijuana company

A 53-year-old Toronto man was arrested Thursday when Hamilton police were investigating The IZMS, a company that produces and sells synthetic marijuana.
The IZMS, a product sold in Hamilton, lists synthetic and natural ingredients on its packaging, but doesn't explicitly say what those ingredients are. (CBC News)

Hamilton Police's Drug and Vice unit has arrested a Toronto man on drug trafficking charges.

Police said they searched two homes at Avenue Road and Davenport in Toronto's Yorkville neighbourhood last Thursday. The search was as part of an investigation into synthetic marijuana and the owner of The IZMS, a company that allegedly produces and sells the drug.

About 200 grams of marijuana and 45 grams of cannabis resin was seized as part of a later search, according to police.

Fifty-three year old Peter Wookey was arrested and charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking. Wookey was released on a promise to appear in court.

FAQ: Synthetic cannabis

  1. Synthetic cannabis, also known as synthetic cannabinoids, is a blend of herbs sprayed with man-made hallucinogens that mimic the effects of marijuana. While the drug does not contain any real cannabis, the man-made compounds make the product illegal in Canada.

  2. Synthetic marijuana is typically packaged in small pouches with brand names like 'Spice,' 'K-2' or 'IZMS.' The packages often say "not for human consumption" on the label.

  3. The short- and long-term effects are more potent than those of real cannabis. Researchers say synthetic cannabis can feel like using cocaine or LSD. Users can feel the effects within minutes or an hour of smoking the product, and those effects can last for several hours.

  4. Long-term effects include irritation of the respiratory passages.

The IZMS CEO, Wookey's 28-year-old son Adam Wookey, defended the company's product in an earlier interview with CBC, saying it is legal.

"The claim that it's legal is based on its ingredients. The active ingredients are synthetic cannabinoids that have no similar structure to THC. Because of that, they are not considered to be similar synthetic preparation and, therefore, not illegal," Wookey told CBC News. "The problem with basing laws on pharmacological effect is that it's extremely dubious."

Health Canada said synthetic cannabis products are illegal and recently released a statement warning consumers not to use them. The IZMS is one of the brands listed.

In January, a man tried to rob an east Hamilton adult novelty store of its supply of IZMS. No arrests were made at the time.

Sgt. Debbie McGreal told CBC Hamilton that Thursday's arrest is part of an ongoing investigation.