The owners of two illegal cannabis shops in Kamloops are still welcome to do business — as long as they go through the proper channels, according to city business licence inspector David Jones.
Jones said it’s unfortunate the two stores — Boomer’s Bud in Brocklehurst and the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society (CSCS) in North Kamloops — have chosen to re-open withour proper licensing after being raided by the province’s Community Safety Unit.
Jones went to observe activity at both stores on Thursday morning upon hearing from media that they had reopened.
He said said he entered Boomer’s Bud and saw customers coming and going. He said he didn’t gain entry to CSCS, but saw a customer visiting the store.
Jones said the city has other enforcement options to discuss to ensure the stores stay closed, citing fines from the municipality or a court injunction.
“It’s something I’d have to take to our senior management and see what their interests are,” Jones said, noting the city first strives for voluntary compliance.
Jones said he won’t be informing the CSU the stores have re-opened, suggesting the unit will obviously be aware of the current situation given that the stores have advertised on social media that they are back in business.
Jones said CSU members from Prince George, Kelowna and Surrey seized inventory from the stores on Wednesday.
Jones, who accompanied CSU members during the North Kamloops raid, said CSU members entered the store, identified themselves and asked the two staff members inside to leave.
“The CSU then seized all product that contained cannabis,” Jones said. “After we were finished, the store was turned back over to the staff.”
Jones said only cannabis products were seized, noting no cash nor equipment was taken.
Though not part of the raid at Boomer’s Buds, Jones said the actions taken by CSU members there would have been the same.
Store owners stand to be fined thousands of dollars as, according to Jones, fines will amount to double the sale prices of all the items that were seized.
Jones said the seized product will eventually be destroyed by the CSU, noting he advised both store owners to go legit.
The CSU has visited them twice, asking that they voluntarily close their doors and undertake proper procedures to become legal.
“Their mandate is to educate and convince voluntarily compliance; however, the stores in Kamloops didn’t do that, so they felt it necessary to visit them and take the next level of enforcement,” Jones said.
Neither the Tranquille Road nor Halston Avenue locations are permitted by the city’s bylaws to house cannabis shops — CSCS is operating too close to a recently licensed private shop, while Boomer’s storefront is not properly zoned.
Jones said he encouraged CSCS owner Carl Anderson to make an application for 405 Tranquille Rd. — something that would have required he first close.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t and another applicant has made the application across the street,” he said.
Both stores were operating in Kamloops prior to the legalization of cannabis, neither of which had a business licence.
Jones said the city has been open and flexible when dealing with applicants wanting to open legal stores, noting its jurisdiction pertains to location and zoning, while it’s up to the province to determine whether an applicant receives a provincial licence to sell cannabis.
Jones said the CSU is taking action to eliminate cannabis that is not manufactured and distributed by approved sources.
“It’s all black market cannabis,” Jones said, pointing to the unknown quality control with still-illegal products, such as edibles, being sold out of unregulated shops.
“Right now, all edibles that are in these stores are made in the back, in the kitchens or by whoever else is supplying that, so who knows how much cannabis or how much THC or how much other ingredients are in these things?” he said.
Pinnacle Access — the retail cannabis shop that has been illegally selling edibles and concentrates from its storefront on the Tk’emlups reserve — was not raided by the CSU and remains open.
Jones, who sits on the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation, said he heard in a meeting last week that the province is in consultation with First Nations groups and asking for them to co-operate with provincial regulations.
“That’s an ongoing discussion and let’s hope the First Nations groups will comply with the provincial regulations and open a store in compliance,” Jones said.