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Unlicensed pot shop in Oliver visited by police and provincial inspectors

From Castanet by Chelsea Powrie October 21 2022

An Oliver cannabis shop was the subject of police and provincial government attention this week.

On Oct. 19, RCMP assisted the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General’s Community Safety Unit with enforcement at The Pot Doctor (TPD) Boutique, a business located in the 8100 block of Highway 97 north of Oliver.

The business is on Osoyoos Indian Band land and is not provincially licensed as a cannabis retailer.

Details are scarce as to what, if any, enforcement action or seizures took place during the time police and the Community Safety Unit (CSU) were on site Wednesday morning.

“We’re unable to comment on any specific enforcement actions that the CSU will or will not undertake in response to specific cases or situations,” the Ministry told Castanet Friday.

But they added that the CSU is “actively following up” with unlicensed retailers in communities around the province and have been “increasing enforcement action.”

“All along, the aim has been voluntary compliance, and we have been very clear that once legal cannabis retail outlets became operational in a community the illegal retailers will continue to face enforcement from the CSU,” the Ministry statement reads.

“Unlicensed cannabis operators can expect CSU to explain the risks of remaining outside of the legal regime, the benefits of licensing, and procedures to obtain a provincial license. The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) is a law of general application and applies equally across the province.”

Provincially unlicensed cannabis retail stores are not uncommon on Indigenous land in the Okanagan and elsewhere in the province. The question of how to regulate cannabis retail on Indigenous land, and whether bands have the autonomy to create their own regulations, has been contentious since the start of cannabis legalization in B.C. in 2018.

A group of licensed retailers in the Okanagan and Shuswap launched a lawsuit in April 2022, calling on the province to enforce the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act on Indigenous reserves.

The Pot Doctor remained open and operational as of Friday afternoon, when reached by Castanet. The owner was not immediately available for comment.

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