Trees Cannabis director Alex Robb faces a $1.5-million fine for the sale of illicit marijuana. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

The director of a popular Island-based marijuana dispensary received a $1.5-million fine months after the dispensaries were shut down by the province.

Near the end of January, Alex Robb, director and general manager of Trees Cannabis, was fined $1.5 million for the sale of illicit marijuana – marking the first known administrative penalty levied to an individual under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

The fine follows a provincial crackdown in late July that saw members of the Community Safety Unit (CSU) – a policing and security branch of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General – target Trees’ eight locations spread between Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver. The dispensary was in the process of obtaining a retail licence when the raids occurred and all cannabis products were seized.

READ ALSO: Province cracks down on second Victoria Trees Cannabis location, all to close today

The hefty fine Robb now faces is based on Trees retail prices and the amount of product sold between May 29, 2019 (when the CSU executed its first inspection and gave direction to “cease selling cannabis and obtain proper licensing”) and July 31.

Robb was given the option of admitting to the contravention and paying a reduced penalty of $771,557.50 or challenging the fine. He was initially given 30 days to make his decision and says he was prohibited from reviewing the evidence, but has since been given an extension and access to the documents when the CSU made an update to its disclosure policy.

Robb says the company put away some funds in preparation for an incoming fine but he was “quite surprised” to see such a high number.

“This is beyond our means to pay,” he says. “We are working on other sources of funds to pay the remaining amount.”

READ ALSO: Trees Cannabis closures impact pain management for regular customers

But Robb says he’s still considering disputing the fine. He argues that as a director and general manager, he wasn’t personally responsible for the sale of the marijuana. He also says a number of dispensaries operated without licences and seemingly aren’t paying the same price.

“There are significant issues with their process here…I never sold the cannabis, I’m directing the organization,” he says. “I would much rather put this behind me and move on with my life. I need to carefully weigh my options and take a closer look at the evidence.”

Robb says one of the reasons Trees operated without a licence was to serve the community of people consuming medical, high-grade marijuana, much of which is currently unavailable in the legal market. He says the new licences neglect “the medical users who pushed for legalization in the first place.”

As for the future of Trees, Robb says the company will continue with the licensing process, which has been put on hold during contravention fine proceedings.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First responders continue to rally in support of Kelowna health care workers

Pandosy Street was packed with supporters for the second night in a row

COSAR assists first responders with injured hiker in K.L.O. Creek Park in Kelowna

This is the second incident COSAR has responded to in 24 hours

COSAR rescues two lost hikers from Okanagan Mountain Park

Two male hikers were overdue from a hike they left for on the morning of March 28

Okanagan Spirits donating free sanitizer to those most at risk during COVID-19 pandemic

The Okanagan distillery has ceased spirits operations and has produced over 3,000 litres of sanitizer since March 26

Fur Brigade Trail was transportation route in Okanagan Valley

Transportation corridor passed through Nicola Prairie, now Summerland

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

Vehicle goes up in smoke in Okanagan garage

Fire department on-scene in 200 block of Poplar Point Drive near Knox Mountain in Kelowna

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Okanagan women spending quarantine making masks

Group at Predator Ridge, and a colleague in Vernon, keeping busy making surgical masks for others

Most Read