Ramping up enforcement, BC adds new penalties for landlords of illicit dispensaries

| David Brown

BC says they are stepping up enforcement efforts against illicit retailers in the province, including new measures to target landlords of buildings housing these businesses. 

New changes to BC’s Cannabis Control and Licensing Act have recently come into force that will allow the province’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) to target illicit retailers as well as landlords leasing or renting space to those retailers. 

The specific section of the Act, section 80, entitled “Landlord allowing illegal sales” recently came into force via an Order in Council, and states “A landlord of premises must not allow the premises to be used for the sale of cannabis that contravenes section 15 of this Act or is prohibited under the Cannabis Act.”

Penalties against those landlords can be fined up to $50,000 or see imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both.

“Community Safety Unit (CSU) officers have been increasing enforcement action and actively following up with unlicensed cannabis retailers in communities across B.C.”

“By bringing section 80 of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act into force, we’re equipping the CSU with additional tools to increase enforcement against both unlicensed retailers and those who own or operate the properties where unlicensed cannabis retail sales are occurring,” says a representative from BC’s Public Safety and Solicitor General Communications Office.

“Community Safety Unit (CSU) officers have been increasing enforcement action and actively following up with unlicensed cannabis retailers in communities across B.C.”

The representative also says the CSU officers have visited 276 unlicensed retailers over the past year “to educate and raise awareness about cannabis laws, the penalties and consequences for violating federal and provincial regulatory regimes.” This is up from 260 last February.

The CSU has followed-up with enforcement action against 43 unlicensed retailers that chose to continue to operate without a license after these initial education visits. The province says enforcement actions have involved the seizure of significant amounts of cannabis and records.

While many illicit dispensaries have already closed since legalization, either voluntarily, with some transitioning into the legal market, or at the behest of the CSU, many across the province continue to operate, with new locations still opening.  

“Unfortunately in some areas, like in Vancouver for example, some illegal retailers have continued to operate despite repeated attempts by the CSU to obtain compliance through education and enforcement actions,” continued the PSSGC representative, noting that this is one more tool that will help the province disrupt the illicit cannabis market.

BC currently lists 207 licensed cannabis retail locations across the province, 17 of them managed by the province as a BC Cannabis Store and 190 run by private retailers. Another 53 private retail licenses are currently await their final approval and another 45 at the “approved in principle” stage.

Featured image via mapleridgenews.com

Black icons note private retailers in BC, green note BC cannabis Stores. Source