Pot and edible filled advent calendar illegal but police unlikely to crack down

A newly released advent calendar with a marijuana twist is raising eyebrows in Vancouver.

'Police resources are very limited in terms of investigating marijuana related offences,' says VPD

Buyers can select which calendar they want for $200 to $230 and have it shipped for the holidays. (Coast to Coast Medicinals)

Just months before marijuana is set to  be legalized across the country, a newly released advent calendar with a marijuana twist is raising eyebrows in Vancouver.  

Meanwhile, officials are reminding people that selling and consuming cannabis is not a grey area — it's still illegal.

Coast to Coast Medicinals, an unlicensed marijuana dispensary, is selling calendars, via mail order, filled with cannabis products that can be either smoked or eaten.

Demand for the calendars has taken off faster than they can keep up with, said owner Lorilee Fedler.

"Right now, we're actually on hold because last night we got about 500 requests," she said. "We have a waiting list."

The calendars will be shipped to buyers through Canada Post.

They try to make sure buyers are over 19 and request a piece of ID over email, Fedler told CBC B.C. Almanac host Gloria Macarenko.

She admitted there is no way to verify whether the buyer matches the ID sent online. Despite that and the fact her business is unlicensed, Fedler said she is not concerned about the legality of selling the calendars.

"The reason why I feel OK with them is because Vancouver is a little more relaxed in this area," she said. "People are selling edibles right there on the street, and nobody is doing anything about it."

'Absolutely a concern'

Rebecca Jesseman, a senior policy advisor for the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, said there are a number of legal issues with the advent calendars.

"If her organization is not licensed, any distribution is illegal and in terms of a lack of age verification, that is absolutely a concern," Jesseman said.

She said it's an illegal enterprise, but there is a lack of police resources available to enforce cannabis laws right now.  

"We are in the midst of an opioid crisis, so are you chasing down somebody that is making a quick profit from advent calendars or are you chasing down someone who is making a quick profit from fentanyl?" she said.

The Vancouver Police Department told CBC it is unlikely to target pot calendars, even though it is outside the current limits of the law.

"Police resources are very limited in terms of investigating marijuana related offences, although these online/storefront dispensaries are essentially trafficking controlled substances," wrote Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Jason Doucette.

Jesseman, who has worked with stakeholders in places like Washington and Colorado where recreational marijuana is legal, said being clear on regulations and focusing on education are key.

"[Make] sure that people are aware of the risks and harms that might be associated with use and ways to reduce those risks if they do choose to use," she said. "[Make] sure people are aware of what is legal and what is not legal."

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

Coast to Coast Medicinals' Lorilee Fedler and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction's Rebecca Jesseman on marijuana. UBC's Men's Health Research's John Oliffe and the Movember Foundation's Mitch Hermansen on men's health. 50:07

With files from B.C. Almanac and Yvette Brend.