City officials have busted a Calgary retailer for allegedly illicitly selling cannabis seeds.
Responding to a tip from the public earlier this month that a store in the city’s southwest was operating as a dispensary and selling cannabis seeds without proper permits, city business licensing officials began an investigation, says a city press release.
“A business licence inspector visited the store and observed plant growing equipment, fertilizers, cannabis seeds and cannabis-related retail items for sale,” it states.
“All businesses displaying, selling or offering for sale cannabis (including cannabis seeds) in Alberta must also obtain a retail cannabis licence from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).”
The operators of the shop — which hasn’t been named — have been issued two mandatory court summonses related to violations of the city business licence bylaw.
They’re due in court in September.
“This serves as a reminder that business owners must obtain all AGLC and City permits and licences prior to operating a cannabis store,” said acting acting chief business licence inspector Michael Briegel.
“In addition, all cannabis offered for sale must be sourced from a federally approved and licensed cannabis facility.”
The maximum fine for violations is $10,000 and additional action could be taken by provincial and federal officials, says the city.
Breigel said consumers should ensure they’re purchasing from licensed retailers whose permit credentials are displayed in the store.
In the earlier months of legalization, city officials handled breaches as part of a learning curve and sought to educate retailers, and these charges are believed to be the first of their kind in Calgary said Abdul Rafih, the city’s manager of compliance services.
“There was a bit of confusion but I think now federal, provincial and municipal governments have provided that education,” said Rafih, adding the store has not been shut down.
“This is a rarity…the rate of compliance in the city has been fairly good.”
A spokeswoman with the AGLC said the investigation is outside its purview because the store apparently didn’t have the provincial regulator’s approval to sell cannabis products.
Since recreational cannabis legalization took effect in October 2018, the AGLC has slapped 14 cannabis retailers with fines or warnings for violations ranging from serving underage customers to insufficient security to improperly procuring product.
The numbers of breaches have been limited because “inspectors work quite closely and frequently with the retailers,” said the AGLC’s Heather Holmen.
The regulator has approved 461 cannabis stores throughout the province, 105 of those in Calgary.