Cannabis Retailers Sue British Columbia Over Illegal Dispensaries on First Nations Reserves
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Cannabis Retailers Sue British Columbia Over Illegal Dispensaries on First Nations Reserves

A group of licensed dispensaries filed a lawsuit April 27, claiming that the province has failed to crack down on illegal retailers on the reserves.

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May 2, 2022

A group of 14 licensed cannabis retailers in British Columbia have sued the province over illegal dispensaries operating on First Nations reserves.

The dispensaries filed the lawsuit April 27 against British Columbia’s attorney general, the Minister of Public Safety and British Columbia’s Community Safety Unit, according to a Global News report.

The plaintiffs claim in their complaint that the province has failed to crack down on illegal cannabis retailers on the reserves, and that each of the licensed retailers has experienced “a $500,000 yearly reduction in gross sales due to business lost to illicit retailers operating on reserves with the knowledge of the defendants,” Global News reported.

“The illicit retailers sell black-market products or illegally obtained product that has not been purchased from the British Columbia government as required by the [Cannabis Control and Licensing] Act, nor authorized for sale under the Cannabis Act [Canada],” the lawsuit states, according to the news outlet.

The lawsuit claims that British Columbia’s adult-use cannabis industry is expected to reach $1 billion in annual sales by 2024, and that the defendants were supposed to “safeguard the legal cannabis industry and prevent the illicit sale of unregulated cannabis products in the province,” Global News reported.

Instead, the lawsuit alleges that while “the defendants have repeatedly advised of the unlicensed sales occurring on Reserve Lands, with specific information regarding the location of the illicit retailers,” they have not taken any action against the unlicensed dispensaries.

Essentially, the plaintiffs claim that the defendants have breached their duty of care, and they are ultimately seeking $40 million in damages, according to Global News.

In addition, the plaintiffs are requesting an order that requires the defendants to enforce the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act to ban illicit cannabis shops anywhere in British Columbia, not just on First Nations reserves, the news outlet reported.