All Trees Cannabis (Trees Island Grown) locations in Victoria are closed effective immediately following raids and seizures at two of its stores.
The company announced the closure after the province continued its crackdown on the popular unlicensed cannabis retailer in Victoria Thursday morning, shutting down a second Trees Cannabis store.
On Wednesday, the province’s Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General (PSSG) shutdown the Alpha Street location and seized all cannabis products.
Following the raid, Trees CEO Alex Robb released a statement announcing he would be suspending operations of all remaining locations on August 16, so he could give his roughly 150 staff adequate notice of termination.
This morning (Thursday), the company made announced on Facebook that all five locations were now closed after a provincial Community Safety Unit attended its Yates Street store and seized all cannabis products.
Before today’s provincial action, Trees had planned to suspend operations in September, 2019. The dispensary was aware of upcoming provincial enforcement, and hoped to voluntarily get ahead of the situation by suspending operations before CSU arrived.
With seven locations across the island, Trees had to first give all 92 of its employees at least eight weeks notice of the dispensaries’ temporary closure, as per labour policies when a mass termination of people occurs in an area, Robb said.
“We hope to reopen soon as licensed cannabis stores, and we do hope that we can hire all our employees back again when we are licensed,” said Robb.
While the CSU seized all of Trees’ Alpha Street location’s cannabis, no arrests were made no charges were laid.
Based on the timelines of when other retailers received provincial licensing, Trees anticipates that it will restart all of its operations in late October or early November, 2019.
UPDATE: All Victoria retail locations are now closed until they have been licensed by the LCRB.
“I hope the outcome of this is a larger discussion…”
The closure of Trees’ Alpha and Yates Street location is largely due to the store’s popularity and complaints from licensed Vancouver Island retailers, according to Robb.
“I believe the reason that they [CSU] targeted us is because that particular location is the busiest location that’s operated on Vancouver Island,” Robb told Victoria Buzz.
“I think that it was a very strong signal to us and other unlicensed operators that enforcement is coming, and this is how they felt they’d have the largest impact.”
“It’s important to give our employees time to prepare for suspension of operations and for our medical clients to have time to stock up on products that aren’t carried at other spaces.”
“Part of our operations is that we offer subsidy programs for those with terminal conditions and that unfortunately is another program that we are going to have to suspend.”
“I hope the outcome of this is a larger discussion in the public of the inadequacies of provincial licensing for people who use cannabis for medical purposes,” added Robb.
The two Trees stores in Nanaimo remain open for now.