Features

Blurred lines: Illicit pot shop ‘Best of Kelowna’

Published on October 27, 2021 by David Wylie

Bud in jar at an unlicensed dispensary in the Okanagan
The unlicensed cannabis store on Commonwealth began as an Indigenous Bloom location, changed to All Nations, and is now unnamed.

An unlicensed cannabis store on Commonwealth that was recently raided by police can now display its 2021 ‘Best of Kelowna’ award in its window.

Digital news outlet Kelowna Now recently announced “All Nations Cannabis” was awarded the silver distinction in the cannabis store category.

The now unnamed shop on Commonwealth Road, at the border of Kelowna and Lake Country, was targeted in an RCMP raid earlier this year. It originally opened in early 2019 as an Indigenous Bloom, then changed to All Nations. It now has a plain sign.

The award shows the pervasive public disconnect between legal and illicit; it also comes at a time when legal cannabis retailers in the Okanagan are pressuring the provincial government to either:

  • crack down on the dozens of unlicensed stores operating, or;
  • afford them some of the same breaks, such as not paying PST.

Called the Okanagan Cannabis Collective, the group of about 20 legal retailers say many retailers in the industry are suffering, crippled by time and cost to become licensed, then to follow the many restrictions placed on legal weed.

  • RELATED: BC dismisses calls to crack down on illicit pot shops

An increasing number of retail cannabis store owners tell the oz. they fear they will soon have to shut down or they know other retailers who are on the brink. A key driver, they say, is a loss of business to the many unlicensed stores.

An Eggs Canna location recently closed in Penticton, reportedly due to having to compete against a nearby provincially run BC Cannabis Store. More legal shops are likely to follow, sources say.

Google screenshot of closed Eggs Canna

Eggs Canna recently closed in the South Okanagan.

Awards by popular vote

“Legalization has also brought an abundance of cannabis shops and dispensaries, all with their own, distinct offerings, but the same mission,” says Kelowna Now in its story about the award. “Looking to understand the medicinal, spiritual and recreational benefits of cannabis on a higher level? These businesses are here to help!”

It’s worth noting, legal retailers are not allowed to talk about any medical benefits of cannabis.

The awards are given by popular vote.

Flora Cannabis took Gold, while Dutch Love was awarded bronze.

‘Best of’ awards handed out by Kelowna Now are displayed all over the Okanagan.

Kelowna Now doesn’t mention in its story that the Commonwealth shop is unlicensed. They also inaccurately tie the store to Dutchie, which is actually an e-commerce solution.

  • RELATED: First Nations cannabis stores a hot potato

“All Nations is worth the drive for its wide selection and quality product. Offering flower, pre-rolls, vaporizers and concentrates, edibles and more, All Nations Cannabis is a one stop shop with all you need and more,” says Kelowna Now.

All of the cannabis products in the store are unlicensed and unregulated, which the BC government warns are mainly unfit for human consumption.

What do you think? Email david@okanaganz.com