VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Illegal pot dispensaries operating in B.C. could end up getting a visit from a unit the government is putting together.
The Community Safety Unit is set to be stationed in several areas of the province, with about 44 people staffed in total for all of B.C.
“They will be employees of the [Ministry of Public Safety] so it’s not a police department, so they will not be uniformed and they will not be carrying weapons,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says.
He explains they’ll deal with illegal marijuana much like illegal liquor is dealt with, and members will levy administrative penalties up to twice the value of the products seized.
“They will have the ability to seize product. They will have the ability to levy administrative penalties up to twice the value of the product seized,” he tells NEWS 1130. “We said right from the get-go: as more legal stores come into being, you will see enforcement against illegal stores ramped up.”
Farnworth adds although everything is just about in place, it will still be a bit of time before the unit is fully operational. He doesn’t have an estimate on when they’ll be running.
One of the key issues the province is still working on, he says, is getting more legal stores up and running.
Robson Square Vendors will be targeted by enforcement teams
Attorney General David Eby says time’s also running out for vendors setting up shop in Vancouver’s Robson Square, much like an unlicensed food truck.
“And it doesn’t matter, really, the quantity,” he says. “What we’re talking about here is the illicit sale of cannabis and doing what we can to eliminate the black market and transition to a licensed and regulated regime here in BC following the federal government’s decision to legalize.”
Eby’s also pointing out that taxpayers won’t be footing the entire bill for the province’s new enforcement team.
The team will be partially-funded by revenues from legal pot sales.
“This team has a whole new set of rules that allow them enforcement powers to seize cannabis that’s being sold illegally,” Eby says.