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

COVID-19: Salmon Arm council makes tough decisions to address economic stress

Among the city’s measures are tax breaks, layoffs and a project delay

COVID-19: Diabetes Canada donation bins becoming garbage dumps amid pandemic

Diabetes Canada has asked residents to stop overflowing bins with donations and garbage

Okanagan College students receive emergency funding

Funding is available to domestic and Indigenous students from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training

Request to bypass bike lanes along property by Salmon Arm airport gets partial approval

City’s planning meeting looks at bike lanes on Auto Road and 20th Avenue SE

Okanagan temperatures to be in the double digits all week

Kelowna’s forecast projects a high of 17 degrees on Thursday

Summerland couple sharing positive messages

Carsten and Val Nielsen are displaying professionally made signs during COVID-19 pandemic

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

COVID-19: Vernon company creates reusable respirators

From athletes to those most at risk, VO2 Master’s adapts production to fill PPE need

Okanagan College grading system critical despite COVID-19 pandemic

On heels of petition penned by student, VP academic says grading system necessary for accurate assessments

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Spike of visitors to Princeton-area stressing grocery supply chain and healthcare teams

‘We are really not set up to have this many people at this time of year.’ Area H Director Bob Coyne

Most Read