Banff cannabis store busted — along with 9 employees

Police arrested nine staff members Tuesday at the Canna Clinic in Banff and seized what they are calling “a substantial amount of marijuana” following complaints of illegal drug sales at the Bear Street Mall store.

Marijuana seized along with marijuana concentrate known as shatter

Police arrested nine people at the Canna Clinic in Banff on Tuesday following complaints of illegal drug sales at the newly opened Bear Street Mall store. Canna Clinic also has locations in Nelson, B.C. (pictured here) as well as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Vernon, B.C. (Canna Clinic)

Police arrested nine people at the Canna Clinic in Banff on Tuesday and seized "a substantial amount of marijuana" following complaints of illegal drug sales at the newly opened Bear Street Mall store.

All nine were employees or associated with the business, said Cpl. Curtis Peters.

"As I understand it, it was set up in such a way that people were able to see [the marijuana]," he said.

"They certainly weren't hiding it, it wasn't done covertly. It was basically a retail place to come purchase marijuana."

This was the first storefront operation of non-medicinal marijuana sales Peters has heard of in Alberta since the federal government announced plans to legalize recreational sale and use of the drug later this spring.

"At the end of the day, we've all heard the legalization of marijuana is coming, but that hasn't happened yet," he said.

Along with the marijuana, officers also seized a marijuana concentrate commonly known as shatter.

Peters said the store was opened in December 2016 and the week-long investigation was launched following complaints from the public and other areas businesses.

All nine are facing charges of possession for the purpose of trafficking in a controlled substance, said Peters.

"We haven't completed the weighing of all the exhibits we seized as of yet, but I can tell you it was a fairly significant amount," he said. "It will be pounds."

"We don't know exactly who all was making purchases, but I do know some of the individuals at the very least did not have a medical marijuana licence," said Peters. "It was being sold as recreational."

"The RCMP's job is to enforce the laws in force now, not the ones to come. As long as the law states it's illegal, we'll continue to enforce it like that."

The company is described on its website as "Canada's most reliable medical cannabis dispensary," with locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.

A spokesperson for Canna Clinic could not be reached for comment.