BC has seized more than $38 million in illicit cannabis since 2019

| David Brown

The BC Community Safety Unit has seized $3 million worth of cannabis so far this year, for a total of $38.18 million since it began enforcement actions in 2019. 

BC’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) is the provincial agency charged with monitoring and enforcing the province’s retail cannabis rules and regulations. CSU investigators can conduct compliance and enforcement activities against unlicensed cannabis retailers and other illegal sellers across the province.

The agency began with a mandate of education in 2019, in many cases first visiting stores and informing them of provincial cannabis laws and regulations before moving on to issuing fines, seizing products and equipment, or shutting down unlicensed businesses. 

The province also expanded their ability to better address illicit online stores at the end of 2022. The CSU has now opened 1,443 cases looking into illicit online stores, with 957 of them being disrupted. 

It has undertaken four enforcement actions so far in 2023, for a total of 95 seizures since 2019. The most significant number of product seizures was in 2020, worth $13 million, following 227 educational visits in 2019.

There have been 230 stores that have closed as a result of those education visits, nine of them in 2023. 

The number of seizures and correlating value has been declining since then, with $10 million worth of cannabis products seized in 2021, $7 million in 2022, and $3 million in the first ten months of 2023.

In Parliament earlier this year, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said that the CSU has also conducted nine enforcement actions on First Nations reserves in the province, seizing about $12 million worth of products. 

The province also issues fines to illicit cannabis stores if they refuse to close after several warnings and/or seizures. So far, the CSU has issued at least 58 notices of administrative monetary penalty with proposed penalties totalling approximately $39.9 million, with only about $1.45 million of these penalties already collected.

Under BC’s Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, there are three types of orders issued by the Director of the Community Safety Unit (CSU) with respect to the issuance of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs); Concession Orders, Compliance Orders, and Reconsideration Orders.

Administrative penalties are generally twice the value assigned to the products seized. 

If the Director proposes to impose a monetary penalty for a contravention of the CCLA, the Director must serve the person with an NAMP. Unless the person signs a waiver and admits to the contravention (Concession Order), the monetary penalty (AMP) is an amount equal to two times the retail value of the cannabis that the person, in contravention of the Act, sold, possessed for the purpose of sale, or produced. If they do sign the waiver (Compliance Order), their penalty is equal to the retail value of the cannabis sold, possessed or produced.


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