BC’s weed police will be enforcing new provincial COVID-19 rules

| Morton Robertson

British Columbia announced last week that police and other provincial enforcement officers were being given the ability to issue large fines for owners or organizers breaking the Provincial Health Officer’s (PHO) order on gatherings and events.

In order to help enforce these new rules designed to discourage large gatherings, BC will be utilizing police as well as other compliance and enforcement staff, including liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors and conservation officers.

BC’s Community Safety Unit is a provincial unit responsible for compliance and enforcement of BC’s cannabis rules, providing both education to those operating outside the law, as well as entering property and seizing cannabis.

Community Safety Unit Inspectors have done more than 276 inspections since late July, with enforcement action against at least 46 stores, seizing $8 million worth of product has been seized, and in some cases issuing significant fines against owners.

BC’s newest rule will see these enforcement staff, in addition to inspectors of legal cannabis and alchohl retailers, and others now empowered to issue $2,000 violation tickets for owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s (PHO) order on gatherings and events.

They can also issue $200 tickets to people who don’t follow the direction of police or enforcement staff at events or who refuse to comply with requests to follow staff orders or safe operating procedures, or respond with abusive behaviour.

The new rules were enacted under the provincial state of emergency, in relation to B.C.’s COVID-19 response and Restart Plan.

“These orders will help us put a stop to the selfish acts of a small minority of British Columbians, who are threatening to erode the progress our province has made in controlling COVID-19,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “While I’m disappointed these measures are now necessary, I am taking this action to give police agencies and provincial enforcement officers the ability to take action against those who are putting people’s lives at risk.”

The enforcement focus will be on $2,000 fines to owners, operators and organizers for contraventions of the provincial health officer’s order on gatherings and events. This includes hosting a private party or public event in excess of 50 people, failing to provide appropriate hand sanitation and washroom facilities, failing to provide sufficient space in the venue for physical distancing, failing to obtain a list of names and contacts at  large event or having more than five guests gathered in a vacation accommodation.

Featured image via sookenewsmirror.com/tim-collins/