Kelowna cannabis store takes one week suspension for failure to ID minor

| David Brown

A cannabis store in Kelowna, BC, will have to close for a week in April after an employee was alleged to have sold cannabis to a minor.

The minor worked for BC’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) as part of the province’s Minors as Agents Program (MAP).

The penalty for such an offence is a minimum $7,000 fine or closing the business for seven days. The store, Prime Cannabis, opted for the seven days, scheduled to begin on April 3, 2024.

The incident occurred during an LCRB inspection on November 30, 2023.  Following standard procedure for such a visit, an adult inspector conducted an in-store risk assessment before giving the 16-year-old minor agent the clearance to enter the store. 

The minor entered the store and purchased a single pack of cannabis-infused gummies, paying cash. The employee working at the time did not check her ID. Upon leaving the store, the minor handed the product to one of the two adult LCRB agents. The other agent re-entered the store to inform the employee that they had just sold cannabis to a minor, an offence under BC’s regulations.

In their defence, the owner of Prime Cannabis, which has two other locations in addition to the Kelowna store, one in West Kelowna and one in Cranbrook, says they have internal policies instructing employees to check IDs. However, the March 6 ruling concluded that the store’s owner had not taken enough steps to ensure employees properly followed such rules. 

One oversight noted in the ruling was a lack of a written checklist that can demonstrate proof of the content of in-store training and the time spent on various topics.

“I note the absence of written documentation: no training checklist, no written quizzes, no printed text messages about ongoing reminders,” states the final ruling. “A written checklist is particularly important when staff in the three stores are being trained by different people. Signing off on a checklist by both the trainer and the trainee can demonstrate what topics were followed and the time spent on each.”

The licensee can apply for a reconsideration of the compliance order within 30 days of receiving a copy of the ruling. 

Prime Cannabis is not the first cannabis store to be caught up in the MAPs program. In February of this year, another cannabis store in Kelowna was issued a $7,000 fine for failing to check the ID of a minor in the BC government’s program. The targeted inspection was in July 2023.

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, in that instance, did not have to face a $7,000 monetary penalty or shut down for seven days.

“Prime Cannabis takes full ownership over our mistake in not ID’ing and serving a minor,” said Rob Anderson, the owner of Prime Cannabis in an email to StratCann. “We take ID’ing very seriously and have increased our minimum age to ID to 40 years old. We self-audit ourselves regularly through secret shoppers. Ultimately, there is no excuse and we own our mistake.  

“We regret the inconvenience we will cause our customers not being able to provide them with product during the week of closure.  We hope our customers will continue to support us, and we will be offering a 10% discount the entire week of reopening after serving our licence suspension.”