BANFF – A RCMP bust near Banff earlier this year resulted in 326 lbs. of illegal cannabis, 10 lbs. of psilocybin mushrooms, 4.5 lbs. of shatter, two lbs. of edibles and $11,000 taken off the street.
“We’ve seen large quantities of [street] cannabis leading up to and post legalization, so I would say it’s not surprising,” Cpl. Kyle Maetche said during a press conference in Canmore on Thursday (Feb. 7).
What started as a simple traffiic stop on the Trans-Canada Highway for a traffic violation near Banff on Jan. 16, resulted in RCMP confiscating a significant amount of drugs, including enough cannabis to make 440,000 average sized joints and enough psilocybin mushrooms to roughly equate to 9,000 average doses.
He confirmed the drugs came from B.C., but where the driver intended to distribute the drugs is still under investigation.
“There are shortages across the country of legal marijuana,” Maetche explained, while noting drugs and organized crime remain a priority for the RCMP.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve seen a [mushroom] quantity like that. We know this is a surface level quantity in the big picture, but no we haven’t seen a ton of psilocybin mushrooms in recent cases.”
Albertans 18-years-old and older are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis.
“I think most people have an appreciation that a certain amount is legal and they are well aware that something of this magnitude is not legal,” said RCMP Superintendent Gary Graham.
The superintendent also noted people in Alberta should be aware that when you buy illegal cannabis, the quality of the product is unknown.
“You have no idea what’s in this product where as if you go to an approved distribution store you have some assurance there is quality control – also it’s a good effort to reduce criminal enterprise that plays havoc in our communities anyways,” Graham said.
Maetche noted the packaging of the product was consistent with “wholesale movement” and said he was “not surprised” with the variety of contraband found, as it is common for suspect to have a “variety of products.”
“I think the obvious is there will always be a black market to the extent of how much of a black market there is,” Graham said.
“If there is any bit of a challenge, it’d be our officers – and they are well aware of it – they need to be in tune to the fact that a certain portion of [cannabis] is legal and they have to be intuitive when conducting their investigations.”
The suspect was driving a pickup truck with a tunnel cover when the Bow Valley Integrated Traffic Unit stopped him. Officers noted the truck was “jammed tight” with the contraband.
“This isn’t the ordinary, but these teams have done a lot of successful seizures. This is one of the larger ones they’ve been involved with in the most recent time, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they would find this again, or something even larger.”
Morley Miller, 39, from Saskatchewan was arrested and charged with possession of cannabis for the purpose of distribution, possession of psilocybin for the purpose of trafficking, possession for the purpose of redistribution, and possession of the proceeds of crime.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.