A newly opened cannabis shop on the Penticton Indian Reserve isn’t playing by the same rules as competitors elsewhere in the city.
Indigenous Bloom, which is attached to the Super Save gas station on Green Mountain Road on the property of locatee owner Adam Eneas, is not licensed by the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
Instead, it is apparently being regulated by the Penticton Indian Band itself, according to an employee, although neither the store nor the band responded to requests for comment.
A self-regulation model would follow one established by other B.C. First Nations, which have taken cannabis licensing into their own hands.
“First Nations reserve lands are not under provincial jurisdiction,” Darwin Douglas, an advisor for the Kwaw-kwaw-a-pilt First Nation near Chilliwack, told the Vancouver Sun in November 2018 when an Indigenous Bloom store opened there.
“First Nations are writing their own cannabis laws and standards that meet or exceed federal and provincial standards.”
But the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch doesn’t see it that way.
“Illegal retailers that do not obtain a provincial licence will have to close—and as more legal retail stores open across the province, you can expect to see increasing enforcement action by the Community Safety Unit,” the agency said in a statement.
“The Community Safety Unit will work with Indigenous communities in consideration of their local needs and interests when carrying out compliance and enforcement activities. It is acknowledged that needs and interests may vary from community to community.”
The statement also warned that products purchased from unlicensed retailers like Indigenous Bloom, which can’t order through legal vendors, “may not comply with Health Canada quality standards and could be contaminated and/or contain unspecified levels of THC.”
Indigenous Bloom is also selling edibles and concentrates, which won’t be legal under federal law until October.
Penticton RCMP spokesman Const. James Grandy confirmed Monday that Indigenous Bloom is operating in a legal grey area.
“I've spoken with our Aboriginal officers, and they've advised me they are looking into this matter and are monitoring it,” Grandy said in an email.
“At this time, we're unsure of what regulations they may fall under.”
Indigenous Bloom opened its doors last week. It followed the opening of the provincially licensed Spirit Leaf cannabis shop on Skaha Lake Road on Aug. 10.
Cannabis Cottage, which is not yet open, was the only other provincially licensed shop in Penticton as of Monday afternoon.