All Trees Island Grown Cannabis Victoria locations were being shut down the province Thursday. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Province cracks down on second Victoria Trees Cannabis location, all to close today

Employees terminated, cannabis seized at all locations of popular cannabis dispensary

The province continued its crackdown on a popular unlicensed cannabis retailer in Victoria Thursday morning, shutting down a second Trees Cannabis store.

On Wednesday, members of the Community Safety Unit (CSU) – under the policing and security branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General – targeted a Victoria Trees location in the 600-block of Alpha Street, seizing all cannabis products and effectively suspending further operations at the store.

At that time, only one location was ordered to close, and Trees CEO Alex Robb said all other stores – in Nanaimo and Victoria – would suspend operations at the end of the day on Aug. 16 – a two-week timeline intended to provide more than 150 staff with adequate notice of termination and give customers time to purchase products not yet available in the legal market.

READ ALSO: Unlicensed Vancouver Island cannabis dispensary to suspend operations

That changed Thursday morning when, according to Robb, the CSU started closing down a second Victoria Trees location on Yates Street, and seizing the cannabis inside. Subsequently Robb has decided to immediately close all other Victoria locations – in North Park and Cook Street.

At this time, Nanaimo locations remain open.

In a statement made Wednesday, Robb said employees will be given severance pay and enrolled in Employment Insurance if they wish. Trees also has a plan to supplement EI through an unemployment benefits program.

“Our main concern right now is for our staff,” he said. “At this time, we cannot put our team at risk of fines from the CSU.”

Trees is in the financial screening stage of their licensing application. They must submit their entire business history, including investments, to the provincial government. Any investor is also liable for screening, and could have to provide comprehensive financial records that date back 20 years.

According to Robb, the screening process has caused significant delays for Trees.

“We just received notice last week that they wanted those from people who had loaned the business money or invested back in 2015. These people have nothing to do with the business anymore, but they still need to account for it, so we’re trying to track them down and get them to submit all these documents to the government,” Robb said in a phone interview with Black Press Media.

“Given these additional inquires for further information, I’m projecting [we’ll be licensed] by late October. It’s really hard to say, because we don’t know how long their screening process will take.”

Trees had reportedly planned to close Sept. 30 if it still hadn’t been granted a license. Robb said he gave notice to the Minister of Labour and the CSU about the dispensaries plans to slowly wind down operations.

“That timeline evidently didn’t work for them,” he said.

READ ALSO: Proposed cannabis retail stores moving through City of Nanaimo processes

Colin Hynes, public affairs officer for the Public Safety and Solicitor General Communications Office, said the government will not comment on individual enforcement actions, but did confirm that the CSU will be increasing enforcement measures across the province.

“One of the things the minister said in October of 2018 was as more legal dispensaries come online, the CSU will increase its enforcement actions,” Hynes said.

CSU officers visited unlicensed dispensaries in many B.C. municipalities in May and June to educate dispensary operators and inform them of the risks, penalties, and enforcement actions the CSU will take on unlicensed dispensaries. In light of this, Hynes said operators should not be surprised by enforcement actions.

Unlicensed dispensaries should expect CSU enforcement action over the coming weeks and months. Enforcement action will vary based on municipalities and bylaw enforcement protocol.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Don’t blame ride-hailing for increase in traffic, blame the personal car

Cities must move away from single-occupant cars, says transport advocate

VIDEO: Three men complete 65 km Sooke to Sidney run for Wounded Warriors

As main run looms, organizers looking to raise $175,000

Vancouver Island seniors get a kick out of ’walking soccer’

Provincial invitational tourney to be staged in Nanoose Bay

Bee business looks to new heights in Cumberland

Comox Valley community considering changes to encourage rooftop beekeeping

White magic in Black Creek: Wiccan church congregation seeing growth

North Island woman named high priestess of Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read