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

BC Wildfire Service changes training of new firefighter recruits due to COVID-19

‘The BC Wildfire Service will continue to hire staff, including firefighters’

CRD Chair Margo Wagner advises Cariboo to avoid self-isolating in recreational properties

This will help avoid potentially overtaxing local healthcare services

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

CRD reminds residents to prepare for spring freshet

As temperatures warm up residents are asked to proactively address flooding issues

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

High cost, limited coverage for asthma medicine a concern during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man says he skips puffs to save money, but others have it worse

Most Read