Three Ontario police forces are teaming up to produce an educational campaign regarding synthetic marijuana – called “IZMS” on the street – which is being sold across the province. IZMS are branded as synthetic marijuana and while its manufacturers bill it as ‘legal weed’, policing organizations aren’t entirely convinced.
“Manufacturers call it legal marijuana, and you can call it anything you want … [but] it all comes down to testing of the product, and we’ve done that,” stated Sgt. Matthew D’Asti of the Windsor Police Service who also explained that Windsor police were teaming up with Halton and Niagara in an educational campaign.
“Since we initially became aware that these IZMS were being sold at local stores in our community, Windsor Police Service has started an investigation,” said D’Asti who explained that police officers purchased the product from local retailers and sent it to Health Canada for testing. The results showed that the product contained illegal substances.
While Windsor police are awaiting more detailed results from Health Canada, they are consulting with local prosecutors with the intention to create a broad based educational campaign for Windsorites, including local retailers who may not otherwise be aware that the potential exists for some possible charges down the road if they continue to sell the products in their stores.
The Windsor Police Drugs and Guns Unit has identified several retailers who are currently selling the product and D’Asti explained that the police will not charge retailers who unknowingly sold the product and that instead police want to “work with the retailers” to “educate people first and let them know that [components of the products are illegal] … we’re giving them an opportunity to work with us and then move forward”.
Proprietors of Endless Heights head-shop/culture-shop on University Ave. W were approached by a salesman who was hoping the shop would stock IZMS, but owner Alex Newman declined to sell the product.
“This past summer a person came by with a large bag of [synthetic marijuana] and dropped it off at the store,” stated Newman who added that he was suspicious of the product because “no real information was given to me. The package doesn’t say what’s in it. It made me decide I didn’t want to sell it.”
Endless Heights is a head-shop that sells smoking accessories, including water pipes, pipes, grinders, rolling papers, shoes, backpacks, and scarves.
The store does sell salvia and some natural smoking blends – which are considered legal – but Newman has a policy of not selling anything that contains chemicals or is illegal.
“Nothing illegal. [Items sold] have to be legal and they have to be natural,” stated Alex, “I don’t like selling any type of chemical compound, and obviously [products] have to be legal.”
A marijuana user who wished to remain anonymous explained that she wouldn’t risk smoking the synthetic product because of the “dangers of smoking what you don’t know … who would want to risk that … you could get really sick, or even worse and die.”
Sgt. D’Asti added that while police are not aware of users becoming ill from the product in Windsor, Health Canada has informed the police that the product can cause health risks including seizures in those who are prone to them. Other side effects include hyper tension, chest pain, seizure, restlessness, hallucination, acute psychosis and damage to lungs.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.