Montreal

Montreal launches specialized police squad to fight black-market cannabis

The city's executive committee has allocated $1.3 million for the cause, according to a statement issued Thursday.

Executive committee earmarks $1.3M to crackdown on unauthorized production, sale of marijuana

Montreal officials say cracking down on black market cannabis is a matter of public safety. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Montreal is creating a specialized police squad dedicated to snuffing out unauthorized pot production and sales.

The city's executive committee has allocated $1.3 million for the cause, according to a statement issued Thursday. The same amount will be renewed in early 2019 to cover the period from January to March.

Montreal is getting the funding from the provincial government under the ACCES Cannabis program, aimed at wiping out the "underground cannabis economy."

Though cannabis is legal in Canada, unlicensed production, even for personal use, is prohibited in Quebec. Marijuana can only be sold by the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC).

A total of 26 police officers and two administrative staff members will join the Montreal police squad.

"The creation of an SPVM team reserved exclusively for the fight against black-market cannabis is part of the harm-reduction approach advocated by our administration," says Rosannie Filato, city councillor and executive committee member, in the announcement.

"These police officers will work in the field to conduct investigations in order to ensure the safety of the Montreal population."

Provincial police say a similar program aimed at contraband tobacco reduced the black market's share from 30 per cent  to 12 per cent, from 2009 to 2018.

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