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

UPDATE: 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: Popular unlicensed Victoria cannabis dispensary shut down by province

That changed Thursday morning when, according to Robb, the CSU started closing down a second Victoria Trees location on Yates Street, seizing the cannabis products 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 (EI) 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: Victoria approves first legally operating cannabis dispensary

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 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

Esquimalt café cooks up connections for all abilities

A Kinder Cup focuses on positivity, inclusivity and connection

Free bike exchange program available to Greater Victoria kids

The Re-Buy-Cycle Shop in Langford offers free bikes for young learners

Central Saanich sparks up new opening burning bylaw

New bylaw offers ‘balanced approach’ between status quo and tougher provincial regulations

PHOTOS: The King of Rock and Roll runs the 25th Annual King and Queen of the Hill Race

Lambrick Park Secondary students, staff, alumni take on Mount Douglas

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

B.C. First Nation signs agreement to return its land on Vancouver Island

The land on the east coast of Vancouver Island will be returned to the We Wai Kai Nation

Most Read