Kelowna cannabis store fined $7,000 for failing to check ID

| Staff

It was an expensive Valentine’s Day for one cannabis store in Kelowna when a judge ordered them to pay a $7,000 fine for an employee forgetting to check ID.

Kiaro Cannabis in Kelowna was subject to a targeted inspection in July 2023 in which an underage agent was sold a package of cannabis gummies. The employees on duty did not ask for the minor agent’s ID or their age. 

In rendering their decision, the general manager of the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) ruled that store management did not take proper actions to ensure staff were properly checking ID, leading to the decision to implement the penalty of a $7,000 fine. 

For a first offence of this type, which was the case here, BC has a range of penalties, such as a licence suspension for seven to eleven days and/or a monetary penalty of $7,000-$11,000.  

Kiaro operates four Cannabis retail stores in BC, including the Kelowna location, as well as Vancouver, Port Moody, and Victoria. 

BC’s Minors as Agents Program (MAP) utilizes young people under the age of 19 to test if cannabis and liquor stores in BC are checking IDs. The program works with two adult agents and one minor. One adult agent first enters the store to assess if it’s safe for the minor to enter. If deemed safe, the minor then enters the store and selects a product to buy. 

If the purchase is made successfully, the minor agent then returns to a car where the second adult agent awaits to collect the product. At the same time, the first adult agent communicates the action to the store employees on duty. 

In this case, the Branch alleged that the minor agent purchased a five-pack of Strawberry Mango SOURZ by Spinach for about $7. The store clerk, later identified as the manager on duty, sold the product to the minor. 

In their defence, representatives for Kiaro discussed the chain’s internal policies for staff training and practices for checking ID. In their ruling, the Branch determined that the store had provided evidence that it had an adequate training program and an effective ID policy for teaching all its employees when and how to request ID. However, it also ruled that there was little evidence about how the policies are being implemented in the Kelowna store where the infringement occurred. 

The store noted that the manager on duty who sold the cannabis to the minor was suspended without pay for five days and had a written warning added to their file.

Ultimately, BC determined that the store had not demonstrated due diligence in ensuring its policies were being properly taught and executed in its stores. The Branch also recommended that the licensee consider introducing a pop-up question on its point of sale system where an employee must answer yes or no to “have you asked for ID?” before being able to complete a sale.

The retailer may now apply for a reconsideration of this compliance order in accordance with BC law, within 30 days. 

BC is sometimes more lenient in its rulings. In a case heard in 2023, ​​it was found that a cannabis retailer was not responsible when an employee failed to check the ID of a customer. This was because the store demonstrated that it had an extensive training program in place. 

While the employee was fired for their oversight, the retailer, Eggs Canna, did not have to face a $7,000 monetary penalty or shut down for seven days.

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