Canada: British Columbia says it has authority to raid any unlicensed cannabis retailer; stores being left alone on reserve land

Radio NL reports


The B.C. Government is not saying whether it will enforce cannabis laws on Indigenous land.

In response to an unlicensed cannabis store in Kamloops – Boomers Buds – being raided, closing down and moving nearby to Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General says it does have enforcement authority on reserve and treaty lands.

“The Community Safety Unit enforcement authority under the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General applies across the province, including on reserve and treaty lands. The CSU will work with Indigenous communities in consideration of their local needs and interests when carrying-out compliance and enforcement activities,” a statement from the Ministry says.

But Kyla Lee with Acumen Law tells NL News it’s still a grey area, in part because Indigenous governments have been left out of getting any share of cannabis tax revenues.

“It’s also arguable that because reserves are technically federal land, the provincial government and their ‘cannabis police’ don’t have any authority to enter First Nations reserves to raid the stores that are operating there and to ticket them under the existing provincial regime. And the argument would be that those people are governed by a federal regime, and there are no federal licenses for the sale of cannabis, so they’re technically not breaking any rules,” Lee says.

The province says the CSU has visited close to 300 unlicensed cannabis stores since forming last year. It’s unclear though if the CSU has raided any unlicensed cannabis stores on Indigenous land.

“Our goal from the start has been voluntary compliance, however, those who continue to operate illegally should be warned that if they do not obtain a provincial licence they will have to close or will face increased enforcement action from the CSU,” the statement says.


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