9 September 2016
The Star newspaper Durham reports…
Durham police allowed an officer co-own an unlicensed medical weed shop that offers products that are illegal to sell.
A Durham police officer for six months co-owned a medical marijuana company that is not licensed and offers consumers pot brownies and other products the government says are illegal to sell.
And veteran Const. Phil Edgar, who once received a commendation for numerous marijuana busts, did it with the blessing of his police force.
After the Star began asking questions, Edgar said he “stepped back” from the marijuana company — Living On Inc. — and is weighing whether he wants to continue a career of policing or branch into the budding medical weed business.
Durham Regional Police Service refused to answer questions about whether it was appropriate for an active police officer to be involved in this kind of business, and why it approved Edgar’s request to co-own the medical marijuana company.
Living On is a medical marijuana company headquartered on First Nations land in Port Perry. It does not have a licence from Health Canada to sell medical pot.
Its website advertises various kinds of edible marijuana products — pot brownies, gummies, a weed-infused chocolate hazelnut spread called “Chrontella” — that are illegal to sell in Canada because the government says they pose a risk of overdose or unintentional ingestion by children.
“From my view everything Living On was doing was ethical and legal. If we’re helping people, and it’s all ethical and legal, then I have no problem with it,” Edgar said in an interview.
According to a police board document, the Durham force received a legal opinion “that it would be required to approve” Edgar’s ownership of a “marijuana dispensary.”
Under Ontario law, officers must receive the force’s permission to have a second job or have ownership in a company that may appear to be a conflict of interest or interfere with their duties as a cop. In the past, Durham has denied requests from officers looking to get side jobs as bartenders or security guards.
Edgar has been a Durham cop for 22 years. When not on patrol, he is also a businessman who owns a bustling gas station across the street from Living On’s headquarters on the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, of which Edgar is a member.
He lives nearby with two palatial homes nestled along Lake Scugog, the product of what he described as “years of smart investments and good business practices.” He owns a fleet of high-end cars, including an Audi R8 wrapped in green vinyl film emblazoned with the dispensary’s company name.
“I do policing right now because I enjoy helping people,” Edgar said. “I don’t do it for the money.”
A well-liked and respected officer, Edgar once received an award from his force for police work that involved seizing more than $530,000 of marijuana during just seven traffic stops. He said it’s important to make the distinction between medical marijuana and street drugs.
“People are talking about marijuana like it’s a poison to society. People who are using medicinal marijuana are people who are looking for an alternative to the pharmaceutical drugs that aren’t working or are causing negative side effects,” he said. “There are police officers in the province who are using medicinal marijuana.”
Edgar joined Living On in December 2015 and said he filed a secondary employment request with the force around the same time.
The force said it would not discuss the issue of Edgar’s request.