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

Abbotsford looks to hold in-person public hearings, with audience size limited

Restricting attendance in 350-seat hall will allow two-metre distance to be maintained, mayor says

Central Abbotsford apartment to proceed to a public hearing – eventually

Six-storey apartment building would have extensive rooftop recreation area

Total Makeover Challenge moves to voting for Top 5 finalists

Online voting for Abbotsford challengers runs April 9 to 14

VIDEO: Abbotsford’s Sandy Hill Elementary hosts car parade for students

Local school lets students know how much they miss them as COVID-19 delays classes

Character Abbotsford Conference postponed until 2021

Fourth conference was originally planned to occur later this year

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

That includes plans about who will care for them if the owner is hospitalized

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19 world update: Joy in Wuhan as lockdown lifted; Pope denounces profiteers

Comprehensive update of coronavirus news items from around the world

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Most Read