Due to pressure from the Province, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, aka the VCBC, received an eviction notice. Unless they are able to change this course of action, this industry founding, non-profit compassion club will be forced to leave its address for over two decades. The Provincial Community Safety Unit, aka the CSU, is threatening legal action against their landlord and unless something changes, the VCBC has to be out by March 31st. For the medical cannabis community, this news is grim but the fight isn’t over yet. Here are all the details on VCBC’s threat of eviction, including what they plan to do about it and how you can help.
Important Background Information
The VCBC has been providing access to safe, high-quality medical cannabis and fighting for the rights of medical cannabis patients since 1996. The Government has tried and failed to shut them down on multiple occasions and this is for a couple of key reasons:
- Before becoming a registered non-profit in 2012, The VCBC has always operated as a very low-cost compassion club and never focused on profit. It has always been about helping sick people.
- They supply products that are not available anywhere on the legal market. For example, cannabis suppositories.
As it is currently written, the VCBC could never comply with the Cannabis Act. Doing so would make it impossible for the organization to continue to provide the products and services that its membership depends on. They only supply medicine to incurably sick patients and in many cases, are the option available.
An exemption to The Cannabis Act
Refusing to comply with the current cannabis regulations means enforcement actions and the VCBC is no stranger to that. With the support of Victoria’s Mayor and Council, along with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, The VCBC is currently applying for a Federal exemption to The Cannabis Act. They pay their rent on time, have a great relationship with their neighbors, and provide a critically essential service. On top of that, we are in the middle of a global pandemic and the VCBC provides medicine. Why is it happening?
According to the Ministry of Health, the CSU “operates the province’s regulatory compliance and enforcement program at ‘arm’s length’ and runs a complaint-driven program province-wide.” Basically, the answer is that the VCBC is caught up in the federal bureaucratic process and in the meantime, the unit is just ‘doing its job’.
The VCBC’s Response
Ted Smith, the Founder and President of the VCBC Board of Directors is a veteran of the War on Drugs and published his plan of action.
The four strategies to save the club are:
- Pressure the BC Cabinet to grant the VCBC a temporary exemption to halt the eviction, pending a decision by Health Canada on an exemption from that level of government;
- Prepare to file a court injunction with our legal team at JFK Law Corporation to suspend the threat against the landlord, and any other punitive measures by the Community Safety Unit, pending a decision by Health Canada on an exemption;
- Daily protests at noon during the week, following COVID protocols, at the Ministry of Health to pressure Adrian Dix, the BC Minister of Health, to acknowledge the benefits of cannabis as a substitute for opiates and to advocate for the VCBC to get an exemption from his Cabinet colleagues;
- Send a comprehensive exemption application from our legal representatives at JFK Law Corporation to Health Canada by the end of February. A last-minute attempt to collect letters of support from members, politicians, and supporters was made.
In addition to these strategies, the VCBC is also hoping to connect with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and ask for a letter in support of a Cannabis Act Exemption. Ted Smith, wrote an open letter to Dr. Henry; click here to read ‘To Dr. Bonnie Henry: Please Help’.
Although this fight isn’t over yet, the possibility that the VCBC will be evicted is very real. If that happens, how will this non-profit organization provide and care for the medical patients that depend on them? If worse comes to worst, the last resort is to sell their products outside of City Hall. If the VCBC does not find another solution come April 1st, that might become reality.
How you can help
This situation is about so much more than just one organization, it’s about the rights of medical patients in Canada and our government’s refusal to prioritize them. Please support the VCBC in their efforts to stay open by writing to your Provincial and Federal MP, as well as public figures such as Dr. Bonnie Henry. Your voice is louder and more powerful than you know; if you or someone you know is using medical cannabis, please speak out on their behalf.