Nova Scotia

RCMP walk back comments on potency of Lego-shaped THC product

Halifax RCMP have apologized for some of the details in a news release that said a Lego-block-shaped THC product seized in a raid "could be a fatal dose for a child."

'We have taken measures to address the liberties that were taken in the release,' RCMP say

This is a photo of one of the Lego-like THC product seized in Monday's raid. (RCMP)

Halifax RCMP have apologized for some of the details in a news release that said a Lego-block-shaped THC product seized in a raid "could be a fatal dose for a child."

In a subsequent news release Wednesday afternoon, RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau said the earlier statement "included references and opinions that are outside of the scope of Nova Scotia RCMP." 

"We have taken measures to address the liberties that were taken in the release," the second release noted.

The updated release removed several details found in the first release.

"The source of the information hasn't been confirmed like ... all the other opinions within the release," said Croteau in an interview with CBC News.

"There's several people who have access to the website that do releases in the evenings, after hours. And it's just a process that we will have to maybe, I don't know if it's more training, we'll have to just address that issue."

How the news release changed

The first news release sent out stated Halifax RCMP officers raided an illegal cannabis business in Timberlea, N.S., on Monday, and seized $60,000 worth of pot and other marijuana-related products, "some of which were marketed toward children."

In the second release, there is no mention of the value of the product seized or any potential dangers to children.

Croteau looked at some of the seized material. She said about half of it was cannabis edibles and about half of those edibles were the blocks that resembled Lego. Croteau said the labelling on the blocks said they had 250 milligrams of THC. The original news release said the dosage was 500 milligrams.

 "It looks just like a gummy," Croteau said. "It's not very big. It's like the same size as a Lego block. It'd still be very concerning."

The corrected release said just one man is facing charges and the owner of the building in which the business was housed was given formal notice to end the lease agreement with the operator. 

In the initial release, RCMP said since Jan. 1 the cash-only business made almost $1 million, but spent just $50,000 without paying any tax. There was no mention of the amount the business made in the second news release.

Doctors warn of edible pot risks to kids

Though RCMP walked back any reference to the potential harm of THC-products for children, doctors have voiced concerns in recent years, especially since recreational pot became legal in Canada in October.

In March, Atlantic Canada's largest children's hospital issued a warning about the risks of edible weed after a flood of cannabis-related calls to its poison centre. The IWK Health Centre in Halifax said it had fielded three times as many cannabis calls to its poison line last year than in 2015.

The hospital said last fall that some children have ended up in intensive care. Dr. Katrina Hurley, medical director at the IWK emergency department, said cannabis could be lethal for a toddler if enough was taken, particularly if the child has underlying lung or heart issues. Part of the concern is that some cannabis edibles look like candy.

Poison centres across Canada have reported increased weed exposures since recreational pot was legalized, according to IWK officials, most notably with concentrated cannabis products and weed-infused food, especially in children 12 and under.

Cannabis-infused edible products aren't yet legal for producers to sell, but are expected to become legal this fall.

Manitoba incident

In Manitoba, a two-year-old girl was rushed to hospital in February, suffered seizures and brain swelling, and ended up in a coma after eating part of a marijuana-infused chocolate bar with 750 mg of THC. Her condition improved and she was eventually discharged.

Dr. Margaret Thompson, medical director of the Manitoba, Ontario and Nunavut Poison Centres, said after the incident she doesn't know of a case where a child has died as a result of cannabis consumption.

Quality-control concerns?

Halifax RCMP also said in the first news release that products manufactured illegally at operations such as the one raided in Timberlea are not "subjected to any quality control and many of the cannabis related products are made in dangerous processes, that involve harmful, toxic and volatile solvents."

The updated release removed this information.

In the earlier news release, police also said illegal operations often take place in unsanitary conditions. One such illegal operation police shut down two weeks ago in Lower Sackville was manufacturing gel capsules by hand with a cannabis derivative in a room police said was "infested with rat feces."

With files from The Canadian Press