Tsleil-Waututh, Maple Ridge dispensaries raided by CSU

It may seem atypical for government employees, but British Columbia’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) is showing no sign of slowing down before the holidays.

In the last week, two additional cannabis store raids made the news, and in both instances, the province’s jurisdiction is being questioned.

Original Supply Co., an unlicensed dispensary on Tsleil-Waututh land on Vancouver’s North Shore, was raided on Friday, December 13. It had been in operation since September 2018. Owner Alex George told the North Shore News that he estimated officers—approximately five from the CSU and 10 RCMP—seized $23,000 worth of cannabis and edibles and an additional $10,000 in cash.

While the shop was operating in contravention of provincial regulations, George had been granted permission from the band council to remain open for up to six months while he applied for a license. He also said that the provincial government had failed to provide clarity as to how cannabis regulations apply to shops operating on First Nations land.

In a discussion with an employee of the province last year, George said he was told that the province had “no jurisdiction over native land”. Nevertheless, the province has said that regulations apply to all retail cannabis stores no matter their location.

Yesterday (Wednesday, December 18), the non-profit Hammond Compassion Society in Maple Ridge was also raided by inspectors from the CSU. In operation since 2015, the shop prioritized medicinal consumers, but had also applied for a license from the province, according to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.

Maple Ridge counsellor told the News the city had no part in the raid, and questioned the shop’s shutdown without the prior approval and opening of more licensed shops in the city.

“What they’re doing is taking away the supply to everybody in Maple Ridge,” he told reporter Phil Melnychuk.

Approximately 50 unlicensed operations have either shut down voluntarily or been raided by provincial inspectors. Officers have visited more than 220 stores in the interest of informing shop operators of the laws and subsequent penalties they could face if they don’t apply for a provincial license. While there have been rumblings that unlicensed stores involved in the application process will not be targeted by the CSU, officers have visited several shops whose owners say they have completed applications and are awaiting paperwork.

This article is available under a Canadian Creative Commons licence.