KAMLOOPS — A newly formed law enforcement agency swooped into Kamloops last week to seize product from two unlicensed cannabis stores, and they're likely going to do the same in every other city where illegal operations are up and running.
The Community Safety Unit raids took place at Canadian Safe Cannabis Services and at Boomer’s Bud in the Brocklehurst neighbourhood on Wednesday, July 31. Both stores reopened shortly thereafter.
The Community Safety Unit is responsible for the compliance and enforcement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act with a focus on the illegal sale of cannabis, according to the B.C. government website.
“It’s unfortunate they didn’t take the visit from the Community Safety Unit seriously,” Dave Jones, City of Kamloops business licence inspector says.
“Obviously the unit will probably be back to visit them again."
The officers that raided the two unlicensed cannabis stores in Kamloops last week came from Kelowna, Prince George and Vancouver to seize cannabis product.
“They seek voluntary compliance and... (to) educate folks on how to be legalized and of course when you don’t do that, the next level of enforcement would be inspection and seizure of products,” Jones says.
Jones says he isn't sure of the exact amount of the penalties given to the store owners but estimates they could be anywhere between $100,000 to $200,000.
"It's my understanding that penalties are based on the value of the product that is in the store that is going to be sold," he says. "For example, if you have a gram of bud that was going to be sold for $20, well that gram of bud would be penalized at a $40 rate."
Investigators are appointed special provincial constables who can obtain and execute search warrants as well as issue violation tickets. They can also conduct investigations with the intent to prosecute and make recommendations to the B.C. Prosecution Service for both criminal and provincial charges, Caroline McAndrews, a media spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, says in an emailed statement.
McAndrews says Community Safety Unit officers operate provincewide and the exact number of officers varies depending on how many officers are needed.
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“Community Safety Unit officers can enter premises without a warrant when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the sale, supply, production or storage of cannabis has occurred,” McAndrews says.
Officers can seize illegal cannabis products, administer monetary penalties based on the amount of cannabis seized, sold or produced, she says.
The officers operate provincewide, but McAndrews wouldn’t disclose where the offices are located or how many officers have been hired since legalization came into effect.
“The exact number of investigators is considered operational and can vary depending on need,” she says.
The ministry says they began hiring investigators earlier this spring and the decision to hire more investigators will be based on need.
“The Community Safety Unit operates a complaint-driven program and maintaining the integrity of the legal market is critical to eliminating the black market cannabis industry,” another spokesperson for the ministry, Jason Watson, says in an email.
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