Two unlicensed pot dispensaries raided, handed $575 fines on legalization day
Two unlicensed Port Alberni pot dispensaries were slapped with a $575 for the unlawful sale of cannabis on legalization day, Oct. 17, 2018. (CTV Vancouver Island)
Mounties raided and ticketed two unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in Port Alberni Wednesday – the same day recreational cannabis became legal across Canada.
In a news release, RCMP said they enforced the new Cannabis Control and Licensing Act on the first day it came into effect at the Port Alberni Cannabis Club on Bute Street, and Leaf Compassion on Johnston Road.
They say in both cases, the stores were open and operating without a provincially provided licence that is required for marijuana storefronts to open under Canada's new cannabis laws.
"Police seized an undisclosed amount of cannabis and cannabis products from both locations and issued the owners a violation ticket for Unlawful Sale of Cannabis, contrary to Section 15 of the CCLA," police said.
Each dispensary received a ticket for $575 under the act and had product confiscated.
VIDEO: Surveillance cameras show RCMP yesterday raiding The #PortAlberni Cannabis Club. They confiscated all #cannabis products that were in plain site & were given a $575 fine. Only city allegedly in #Canada to be raid on #legalizationday @CTVNewsVI pic.twitter.com/gp6trf08I3— Andrew Garland (@CTVNewsAndy) October 18, 2018
Erik Vesaranta, manager of Leaf Compassion, said police were calm as they entered the store Wednesday to take any cannabis in clear view off shelves.
"The weird part is they only did it in Port Alberni and not anywhere else," said Veseranta, adding Leaf has other outlets in places like Victoria that weren't raided. "We've had a business licence here for years now from the city and have never been touched. Everywhere else on the island seemed to have a good time, where we were sitting here by 2:30 and couldn't sell anything."
He said the business is now waiting for its licence application to get approved before it starts selling cannabis again.
The RCMP statement included a reminder that in B.C., cannabis can only be sold at government-run stores, licensed storefronts and the province's online store, which saw a little more than 9,000 sales on day one of legalization.
Much criticism has been lobbied at the province for only having one government-run BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops ready for legalization day, and no licences approved for private dispensaries.
"I just hope the government can step their game up and make this progress a little quicker so we can all be legit and open, and get people their medicine," said Vesaranta.
Some private dispensaries have shut down and cleared out their product as they wait for their approval, while other stores like the two Port Alberni dispensaries have risked it by remaining open without a licence.
"While the legal recreational use of cannabis may be new, the enforcement of laws around the illegal production, distribution and consumption of cannabis is not," Comox Valley RCMP said in the statement.