B.C. solicitor general Mike Farnworth says cannabis enforcement officers are nearly ready to deploy

Cannabis inspectors can issue fines for dispensary infractions and confiscate illicit products without warrant

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Tax auditors, parking enforcement, and politicians—move over. There is soon to be a new career path for people who love-to-be-hated by the general public.

      Earlier this year, the B.C. NDP promised the creation of a Community Safety Unit of officers, much like liquor inspectors, dedicated to enforcing new cannabis laws across the dispensary landscape.

      Last week, B.C. solicitor general Mike Farnworth, the province’s point man on weed, says the task force is almost ready to start cutting citations.

      “They will be on the ground to do enforcement very shortly,” he said in an interview with Radio NL, a Kamloops-based newscast. In an article on the station's website, Farnworth says, as it stands, 44 officers will be deployed to communities across the province.

      “The community enforcement units will be able to go into an unlicensed cannabis store and seize the product. They do not have to have warrant. Just like right now they don’t have to have a warrant to seize illegal alcohol. They can levy administrative penalties, fines, to twice the value of the product that has been seized.”

      Much in the same way a liquor inspector operates, a cannabis inspector will be allowed to enter any illicit shop at any time, sweep for infractions, and dole out the corresponding fines and penalties.

      In B.C., there are a number of shops that stand to take the hit. 

      Where hundreds of compassion clubs, medical dispensaries, and consumption lounges used to exist in a spectrum of operational legality (raning from very illegal to legal under certail licenses) across the province, now only government stores are legal. And in B.C., there is only currently one located in Kamloops. Any dispensaries open at this point have either been given a pass by the corresponding municipality to stay open while licenses are distributed or are operating at the risk of a raid. A handful of dispensaries in Vancouver are also staying open while awaiting a B.C. Supreme Court decision after the City filed a petition to have them shut down. The rest of the shops have either closed to attempt the jump into the legal market, or abandoned the business.

      B.C. isn't going full-blown Orwell, just yet. The province opted for a hybrid system, gradually allowing approved cannabis retailers into the marketplace. The provincial government reports it has received over 173 applications for cannabis retail stores. Of the open applications, 62 have been reviewed and passed to local governments for consideration and 35 are in the late stages of the approval process.

      Farnworth is asking cannabis consumers to be patient while the province settles into the new regime. During a visit to the province’s first legal recreational cannabis store in Kamloops, he said it will likely take “a few years” before B.C. sees a “fully functioning, mature system of public and private retail.”

      “Yes, there was only one store on opening day, but there are going to be many more in the months ahead and we’ve had the online retail sales outlet, which has been quite successful,” he said to reporters.

      At least weed is now legal, so the cannabis enforcement officers will be able to medicate after a long day of being asked how they live with themselves.