Edmonton police bust cannabis websites, online vendors evade rules

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Edmonton police are taking their fight against illegal cannabis online, but some sellers are still evading the rules.

Police say they have begun taking over more than 100 domains for websites selling illegal cannabis this week. Websites display a message indicating the domain has been seized and asking visitors with information to contact police. Recreational cannabis can only be legally purchased online from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) in this province.

At least one vendor seems to have circumvented the shutdown. Getkush.ca was seized by police this week, but a post on the company’s Facebook page indicates it changed its domain on Monday. The new website is still active.

Const. Dexx Williams, a cannabis compliance officer, isn’t too surprised. But he says the notices serve an investigative purpose.

“To get a new domain name isn’t hard, .org, .net … When customers who saw an advertisement online or got an email, go back to the place they ordered from before, and see that police have seized it, the intention is they may come forward with evidence … which builds the case on the individuals responsible for that domain,” he said.

An ad from Edmonton Police Service warns Albertans that buying cannabis from websites other than AGLC is illegal. Submitted image.

Another goal is educate misguided Albertans who were unknowingly breaking the law when they made purchases from those vendors.

“A lot of the sites were very professionally done, so we are diverting individuals who weren’t aware that the activity wasn’t legal back to legal sources,” he said. “We’re trying to educate the people who are trying to be law abiding citizens.”

He says he expects the department will be quicker in removing illegal websites in the future.

Vendors running websites outside Alberta, but selling to Albertans, can still be charged under the federal Cannabis Act and face fines or up to 14 years behind bars.

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