Vernon shop Ocean Sprouts Organic Herb was visited by the province’s Community Safety Unit Tuesday. Cannabis was seized and a 30-day notice of seizure was placed upon the business. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Province seizes cannabis from Okanagan shop

Ocean Sprouts visited by B.C. Community Safety Unit officials; 30-day notice of seizure placed

Some of “Vernon’s best weed” has been seized by authorities.

Ocean Sprout Organic Herb, also known in a Google search as Vernon Organic Rasta Bong Dispensary, was visited by the province’s Community Safety Unit officials Tuesday at its Vernon retail outlet in the 3100 block of 30th Avenue, and a Public Notice of Seizure tag was displayed prominently on the shop’s front window.

“Cannabis has been seized by the (Province of B.C.) Community Safety Unit from the location under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act,” reads the notice. “It’s an offence…to remove, alter, destroy or deface this notice.”

The notice must be displayed for one month, until Sept. 26.

On the province’s website, the Community Safety Unit, a branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, is responsible for compliance and enforcement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA), with a focus on the illegal sale of cannabis. CSU investigators carry out compliance and enforcement activities against unlicensed cannabis retailers and other illegal sellers across the province.

The CSU has the authority to enter premises where cannabis is being sold without a provincial retail store licence and take enforcement action, including making seizures of cannabis.

City of Vernon bylaws said the company has been operating without a business licence.

Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP was on-scene to keep the peace while the Community Safety Unit of BC investigated the alleged illegal cannabis shop.

On its website, Ocean Sprout declares they have the “Best weed in Vernon BC!” and is open seven days a week.

“We deliver in Vancouver and Vernon or mail out to anywhere in Canada. You won’t find anything stronger or smoother. Just bring ID and your served,” reads the web page.

READ MORE: Vernon first legal cannabis store opens

The Morning Star placed two calls to the number associated with the shop. The first call went to voice mail with the message saying the store “would be closed down for a week or so.” A man answered the second call but declined to comment and hung up.

Spokesperson Colin Hynes said the ministry “is unable to comment on any complaints or any enforcement actions that the Community Safety Unit (CSU) will or will not undertake in response to specific cases or situations.

“However, the CSU is actively following up with unlicensed retailers in communities across B.C.,” he said. “It’s been clear that illegal retailers that do not obtain a provincial licence will have to close or face increasing enforcement action from the CSU.”

To ensure everyone’s safety, Hynes said CSU Officers will always identify themselves — displaying either photo identification or both a badge and photo ID. Police also have authority to enforce laws with respect to cannabis, including the authority to make seizures, issue violation tickets and investigate and recommend charges for offences under both the provincial statutes and the federal criminal law.

However, the province does not provide operational direction to police; they set their own operational priorities based on the needs of their community.


@VernonNews
roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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