A group of 14 licensed cannabis retailers in British Columbia have sued the province for $40 million over what they claim are illegal dispensaries operating on First Nations reserves.
The retailers filed the lawsuit on April 27 against British Columbia’s attorney general, the Minister of Public Safety, and British Columbia’s Community Safety Unit, according to reports by Global News and other media outlets.
The lawsuit contends that the unlicensed retailers are selling products that originated in the unregulated market or illegally obtained products that were not purchased from the B.C. government as required by provincial regulations and federal law.
The plaintiffs claim in their complaint that the province has failed to crack down on illegal cannabis retailers on the reserves, and that each of the licensed retailers has experienced “a $500,000 yearly reduction in gross sales due to business lost to illicit retailers operating on reserves with the knowledge of the defendants,” Global News reported. The lawsuit alleges that while “the defendants have repeatedly advised of the unlicensed sales occurring on Reserve Lands, with specific information regarding the location of the illicit retailers,” they have not taken any action against the unlicensed dispensaries.
In addition, the plaintiffs are requesting an order that requires the defendants to enforce the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act to ban illicit cannabis shops anywhere in British Columbia, not just on First Nations reserves, news outlets reported.
As reported by Global News, the statement of claim says that the retail cannabis industry in B.C. has seen rapid growth, with $1 billion in annual sales expected by 2024.