Skip to content

Government unit raids cannabis dispensaries on K’ómoks First Nation

Lawyer for one dispensary puzzled by motivation for the raids

On the afternoon of Feb. 14, the Government of BC Community Safety Unit (CSU) conducted simultaneous raids on three K’ómoks First Nation cannabis dispensaries.

Personnel from the Comox Valley RCMP oversaw the operation, in an effort to “keep the peace.”

CSU personnel removed all cannabis from The Buddery House, 3420 Dispensary and Cedar Bark Dispensary in a series of raids, shortly after noon. (Paraphernalia and accessories were left behind.)

A fourth dispensary was not open for business at the time of the raids.

Robert Laurie, a lawyer representing The Buddery House (Ad Lucem Law Corporation), said the raids caught his clients by surprise.

“It was very much a surprise to all of us,” he said in a interview during the raids. “In fact, I had emailed the head of the CSU, Doug Ward, who was the senior officer today, yesterday, indicating that we wanted to come to Victoria with our clients, meet with them, and bring to their attention some of the issues and concerns, and also explore the opportunity or transitioning to the Section 119 regime, which is the provincial government’s regime. But these clients, as well as other groups from British Columbia, are of the mind that they shouldn’t even be dealing with the provincial government when it comes to the issues of cannabis, and other traditional plant medicines and fungi. So today was really an instance of perhaps an abusive process, or action in bad faith.”

Black Press has reached out to Ward for comment on the raids. He has yet to respond.

“I can add that these CSU officers were not invited here by chief and council,” said Laurie. “They showed up of their own doing.”

Laurie openly questioned the motives behind the raids.

“It’s really an eye-opener to see the extent the Community Safety Unit (will go)… at the end of the day, whose safety and community are they concerned with? They should probably more appropriately be called the Community Excise Unit because at the end of the day, I think that’s really why they are here.”

K’ómoks First Nation has published a statement on the raids.

“Last month, the Province’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) visited the unregulated cannabis businesses on our Reserve,” reads the statement. “They shared educational materials about the CCLA and how… these businesses can become compliant with Section 119 of the Act. The CCLA is a law of general application. Any laws of general application also apply on Reserves. Today, the CSU started confiscating unlicensed product from the unregulated cannabis shops on Reserve.

“We understand that the CSU’s actions today impact our members and their livelihood. K’ómoks did not have a say in the Province’s actions. The Province is enforcing their law, as is their jurisdiction.

“It is our job as elected leadership to represent our people and advocate for our right for self-governance. We will continue to work on this issue to find a resolution, but it will take time. Our best course of action is to retain legal and business expertise to lobby the government to amend legislation. We plan to work with store owners on Reserve and consult with our community to find a path forward that works for our Nation.”

(Scroll down to read the entire statement.)

Black Press has also reached out to the management of 3420 and Cedar Bark.

According to a Government of BC website the Community Safety Unit (CSU)’s mandate “is to deliver a province-wide compliance and enforcement program to prioritize public health and safety, protect children and youth, and keep the criminal element out of the cannabis industry.”

CSU has collected $1.49 million in penalties and seized over $38.18 million in cannabis through 108 enforcement actions. CSU has forced the closure of 232 unlicensed stores in BC. It has also investigated 1,554 websites involved in the illegal sale of cannabis and has disrupted 981 of those websites.

For more information, visit

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Microsoft Word - Blank - KFN Letter

ALSO: Cannabis profits hard to come by, review of Cannabis Act finds

Terry Farrell

About the Author: Terry Farrell

Terry returned to Black Press in 2014, after seven years at a daily publication in Alberta. He brings 24 years of editorial experience to Comox Valley Record...
Read more