Searching for a 'higher high': Marijuana extract shatter hits Winnipeg streets

A Manitoba judge has sentenced a Winnipeg man to 18 months of house arrest and ordered him to pay a $464 fine for trafficking a new drug hitting city streets known as shatter.

Shatter is a highly potent derivative of marijuana that has made its way onto Winnipeg streets

A man holds a sheet of THC concentrate known as "shatter," in this file photo taken in Denver, Colorado. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

A Manitoba judge has sentenced a Winnipeg man to 18 months of house arrest and ordered him to pay a $464 fine for trafficking a new drug hitting city streets known as shatter.

The drug looks like a sheet of hard toffee and shatters when broken up into pieces. It is then heated and the fumes inhaled. It is more potent due to its higher THC content — the compound in marijuana that users seek. 

Shatter is a made in labs with solvents like highly explosive butane that can only be stored under compression.

Provincial court Judge Kael McKenzie sentenced the 23-year-old Winnipeg man on Jan. 11 after the accused pleaded guilty to trafficking a controlled substance.

The sentence is the first for Manitoba involving shatter. Court documents say Winnipeg police charged the man and two women living at his house with trafficking last March after getting a tip from a confidential informant.

Police found over 117 grams of shatter and 1,120 grams of marijuana along with $1,610 in cash and score sheets [used to record transactions], but didn't find anything to suggest the accused was producing shatter, court records show.

In McKenzie's 12-page decision, he said shatter is a relatively new drug in Winnipeg that police are starting to see.

He said shatter is more dangerous than marijuana and warrants a stiffer sentence.

Crown attorney Haley Hrymak asked the court to sentence the accused to two years in jail while the defence fought for supervised probation.

Defence lawyer Sarah Murdoch argued while shatter has a higher THC content, it's still akin to marijuana.

McKenzie ruled 18 months of house arrest was suitable and found the accused had sufficient community support to serve his sentence out of jail.

McKenzie gave the accused credit for one month of time already served.

Paranoia, anxiety along with high 

Mike Watts is the owner of Brothers Pharmacy, a Selkirk Avenue clinic and pharmacy that has special programming available for drug users.

Watts said there have been a few clients who've come to his clinic talking about shatter over the last year.

"People are searching for a higher high, which is achievable with that."

Mike Watts, the owner and manager of Brothers Pharmacy, says opioids remain more of a concern for him than drugs like shatter. (CBC)

But Watt said for him, the concern is still about opioids like fentanyl.

"The chance of something going terribly wrong with fentanyl is a lot higher," Watts said.

Still, Watts cautioned users could have a bad trip from shatter because of its higher potency.

"That could lead to some problems. Paranoia, anxiety can be increased with it," he said.


​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: