‘All we ask is for a chance to meet:’ Dispensary owner urges B.C. premier for discussion

'All we ask is for a chance to meet:' Dispensary owner urges B.C. premier for discussion

The owner of a local dispensary is calling on the province for change in the wake of the latest crackdown a provincial agency had on its unlicensed medicinal marijuana operation.

Just one month after opening at its new location, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club was raided by enforcement officers from the province’s Community Safety Unit. It was the third time the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has been raided since legalization in 2018.

Victoria Police also seized over $30,000 cash and says it has “initiated a proceeds of crime investigation.”

The raids are a result of the club’s failure to operate within Canada’s regulatory system.  Unlike other cannabis shops that have transitioned to the legal system, getting provincial and federal approval to sell approved products, the club has always done things its own way. Selling its own products, some of them locally grown, with higher dosages, and their own set prices.

In an open letter, Ted Smith, the owner of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, says all his organization wants is a discussion with the province’s premier to explain the third-rail stance his cannabis club is taking when it comes to the law.

“All we ask is for a chance to meet with you for 15 minutes to explain why the VCBC has decided to work outside of the legal medical cannabis program,” Smith writes in his letter. “There is no reason that you cannot simply sit down with us for a few minutes to hear our story, a story that affects thousands of citizens in Victoria.”

During a press conference Thursday, Smith criticized the current laws around dispensing cannabis.

“The current model Health Canada has for medical cannabis does not include storefronts. They insist that patients use mail order and use a credit card to make their purchases from large companies. Many patients find the program completely inaccessible, because they’re homeless, because they can’t get a credit card, because they can’t easily access the internet.”

He added that the limits Health Canada imposes on edibles is also restrictive.

“There’s a 10-milligram limit on edible THC, which is unacceptable for many of our patients in chronic pain, dealing with cancer, and other serious problems.”

Smith says that the recent actions the enforcement agency has taken are threatening not only the shop but the patients he serves.

“Our club is not a group of deviant law-breakers.  Our compassion club is dedicated to helping people in pain, patients with incurable physical ailments and those suffering serious mental health problems.”

The club expects they’ll be raided and fined again, saying, “that is not likely the last time they’ll visit. However, we are filing for an injunction and a lawsuit against the government for these actions.”

To date the club has been fined more than six million dollars for selling marijuana illegally.

READ MORE: $6.5 million in fines issued to Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, founder

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General couldn’t comment on any specifics regarding the most recent raid on March 23, but in a written statement said, “The CSU inspections result from proactive strategies and in response to complaints received from the public, government agencies, police, legal market operators and others.”


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