Unlicenced BC pot shop hit with $1-million fine

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A BC weed store has lost an appeal leaving it on the hook to pay a $1-million fine issued by the province's pot police.

According to a penalty notice from BC's Community Safety Unit, Sooke marijuana dispensary 642 Cannabis was raided by the province in August 2019 and had its cannabis seized.

The notice said the Community Safety Unit visited the then-unlicensed store a month early and told the owners Callum Wake and Vincent Collard about the consequences of selling cannabis without a licence.

It appears they didn't listen and the unit came back and seized the store's cannabis.

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The penalty notice said the retail value of cannabis in the store at the time of seizure was $262,820 and that 642 Cannabis then sold $258,456 worth of cannabis from July 26, 2019, the date of the inspector's first visit, to Aug. 26, 2019, when the unit came back and shuttered the business.

The notice said that fines are calculated by doubling the retail value of the cannabis that was sold and the cannabis in the store at the time of the raid.

As Wake and Collard had sold more than $250,000 of cannabis in a month and had a further $260,000 sitting on the shelves the fine added up to $1,042,553.

In 2022, the store owners appealed the fine arguing the province had made legal errors.

However, in January this year, the Community Safety Unit dismissed the appeal.

It's unclear when, but the store which originally opened in 2016, has since obtained its provincial licence to sell cannabis.

The fine is one of several recently published penalty notices issued by the province.

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The newly published notices show that Kit Warren, who operated a store at 1620 Blanshard Street in Victoria, was fined $156,125 following a raid in February 2020. The raid came about several months after the Community Safety Unit first visited the store and issued a warning for selling weed without a licence.

In Vancouver, Victoria Bourgeois was issued a $142,388 fine after her West Broadway store was raided in October 2019. Again, the raid came several months after the authorities first visited the weed store.

In June 2023, Cannabysm Holdings, a cannabis store north of Lillooet, waived its right to a hearing and instead admitted to selling cannabis after province officers turned up in January 2021. The store accepted a $43,918 fine.

In another recently published penalty notice, S&M Medicinal Sweet Shoppe in Gibsons received a $105,873 fine. The incident dates back to February 2020 when the province seized cannabis from the store. Again, the raid came months after the province had visited the store and given them a verbal warning.

The penalty notices don't say how long any of the businesses fined have to pay.

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