The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club that has operated out of a Johnson Street retail space for over 20 years may be forced to leave.
The landlord may face prosecution if they don’t evict the long withstanding club.
“The Community Safety Unit, a branch of the Solicitor General, has threatened our landlord with fines or possible jail time if we are allowed to continue operating,” said Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club founder Ted Smith in an interview with Victoria Buzz.
The club has faced several raids since it began operating in 2001.
“We’ve been raided 7 times over a 25 year period, we’ve used the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to grant us exemption many times,” said Ted Smith.
The club has used protection under the Cannabis Act, Section 56 (1), and temporary exemptions from both municipal and provincial levels of government before.
“The last we heard from the province was a positive note. Exemption 56 (1) was a key component for our battle for decades. And there are exemptions in the Cannabis Act that are just as fitting, there is an exemption for the public interest, which we are seeing, especially with the opioid crisis,” said Smith.
Despite municipal support from the Mayor, in order to stay in its location on Johnson Street, the provincial cabinet would need to halt the eviction, said Ted Smith.
Smith said if nothing is done his next step will involve Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“Our next focus will be to get Dr. Bonnie Henry involved. The opioid crisis is causing misery, and this is a valuable alternative in the fight. This is the health of our citizens here.”
The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has long been operating before cannabis legalization and it offers alternatives both the government markets or the black markets cannot, Ted Smith said.
“We have products both legal and/or illegal – things like suppositories. There are very few sources for suppositories and they help people who cannot smoke or eat.”
Legal cannabis is priced much higher than the black market, but the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has provided the space for those with medical cards to purchase cannabis that exceed the allowable amount of THC permitted under the Federal Cannabis Licensing Act.
“The prices the government offers are so disproportionate. It’s unfair for patients who can’t afford it or need something more potent,” said Smith.
“If the club shut down, patients will go to the black market.”
Smith said they have filed for an injunction and have applied for a health canada exemption.
“If it comes to the end of March and we haven’t gotten an exemption from the provincial government, we’ll consider other options for our members.”