The B.C. government's Community Safety Unit (CSU) raided the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society at 405 Tranquille Road in Kamloops on July 31 at around 10:45 a.m., a lawyer for the store tells KamloopsMatters, which is a sister publication to Business in Vancouver.
A similar raid took place at Boomer's Buds at the corner of 12th Street and Halston Avenue in Kamloops.
Shawn Buckley says around 12 people, including a few Mounties, came to the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society's storefront.
He says the North Shore compassion club — a marijuana store that provides cannabis for medical purposes — was approached by the CSU a few months ago and was told to shut down. Under Canadian law, compassion clubs are illegal; buying bud and oil is legal, but buying weed cookies is not.
"They (the government) just don't care," says Buckley. "They have no idea that many people accessing compassion clubs, some are alive because of the compassion clubs. Others, it's quality of life versus no quality of life. That's what's really upsetting me about this, is that there's a total disregard that, wait, these are people with medical needs. ... Do they need the licensing fee? Are they worried because they're not getting provincial sales tax? This has to be about money. It's not about compassion."
Dave Jones, the city's business licence inspector, was only made aware of the raids this morning but says these stores shouldn't have been surprised.
"We used to have 13 stores in town. I visited each and every one of those stores and asked them to close down and don’t do any operations, 11 of those stores have complied," he says, noting that the CSU had also visited each store twice and shared info on how to become a legal operation.
"At some point in time, the CSU chose to raise the level of enforcement and pay them a visit today. It’s not like they haven’t known it was coming."
Buckley notes he approached the CSU before the Cannabis Act came into effect, and urged the group to come up with a policy for compassion clubs.
"Until baking and other forms are legalized, which is yet to come but it is coming, there has to be some accommodation," he says.
The production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals will be legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2019.
The local lawyer anticipates the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society will receive a fine, one that could be up to two times the retail value of what is seized, he says.
As for next steps, Buckley says the society will have to make a decision.
"We basically have to apply to have those parts of the legislation that are affecting the club declared unconstitutional. And that’s an option but whether or not the society decides to do that or not will depend on several things. We’re not far down the road to figure that out."
In an email to KamloopsMatters, Colin Hynes with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, says, “The CSU officers have been actively following-up with unlicensed retailers in communities across B.C. and are now increasing enforcement action. We are unable to comment on any complaints or any enforcement actions that the CSU will or will not undertake in response to specific cases or situations.”