An Ontario businessman has police and lawyers in Windsor, Ont., scratching their heads and poring over Canadian marijuana laws.
Joel Capin intends to sell marijuana seeds and nothing else at his Seeds for Less store in Windsor when it opens downtown Nov. 16.
He contends it’s legal to sell cannabis seeds in Canada.
Windsor Police, however, disagree.
"It is an offence to sell cannabis seeds that are not, non-viable," the service said in an emailed statement to CBC News.
"Not, non-viable" is a way of saying the seeds have the ability to grow into a marijuana plant. That, Windsor Police say, is illegal.
The department declined any other comment.
Paul Esco, a criminal lawyer with 20 years experience, sides with Capin.
"I would say he’s right. As for my understanding ... seeds, I would say, are legal," he said. "Now, the police may say he has the seeds to promote growing marijuana. But that’s something you’d have to argue in court.
"I wouldn’t want to be him. I don’t think the police are going to stand by and let him sell them."
Esco said he’s never defended a client who was charged with having marijuana seeds. He has represented clients who had plants that had just sprouted.
"Once it starts to sprout, even the tiniest bit, and the police catch you ... you’ll be charged for a full plant," Esco warned. Capin said he’s consulted with lawyers and insists his seed business is legal.
Capin also has a website being developed. He claims he couldn’t find a web developer for his business until he could prove it was legal.
He has stores in Hamilton and Niagara Falls. Police in Niagara Falls told CBC News they aware of Capin’s business but said they couldn’t comment further.
"I’m trying to establish legal businesses that operate no differently than any other business," Capin said. "At that the end of the day, it’s not my job to make sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do [with the marijuana]."
Unlike Marc Emery, who was, under American law, convicted of a crime for selling and shipping seeds to the United States through the mail, Capin has "absolutely no intentions of shipping seeds."
Capin said sales have been "good" in Hamilton and Niagara Falls.
"I saw that it could be viable," he said of the seed business. "I want to expand my business to be the first chain of seed banks."
Capin said his Hamilton store has served people from as far away as Illinois.
"Geographically, there’s a gap in the market," he said.
That’s why he chose Windsor in which to open his latest store.