The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) will be meeting with Health Canada on Monday to discuss dosage limits in cannabis products.
The club is currently facing about $6.5 million in fines, partially due to having higher doses in their products than approved by the organization.
VCBC, which is located on Johnson Street, has been providing cannabis products to patients with a confirmed diagnosis of a serious medical problem since 1996. Patients need a referral from a medical professional, giving them the option of cannabis over opioids for pain management.
It now has more than 8,500 patients fighting a number of conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
“When you eat cannabis as medicine, it’s when it can be really beneficial for fighting pain, inflammation, anxiety and a number of other issues,” Ted Smith, president of VCBC, said.
The club’s products have a higher dosage than the 10 milligrams approved by Health Canada, with some reaching into the hundreds of milligrams.
This has caused the store to be raided and fined by B.C.’s Community Safety Unit multiple times.
Members of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club held a rally in front of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria. (Submitted)
Smith said 10 milligrams is not a high enough dose, which is why VCBC provides more.
“The low dosage products that are available legally are not sufficient enough for people who are trying to fight opioid drugs, or fight cancer, or serious arthritis and such,” said Smith. “High dosage cannabis medicines are safe, effective, and necessary and we will not stop fighting until they are readily available.”
Smith is preparing a constitutional challenge against Health Canada’s medical cannabis programs if it doesn’t give VCBC an exemption to the dosage limit. He is also preparing to challenge his fines in court.
Smith believes with the ongoing opioid crisis in B.C., the province should be looking at what the club is doing as an option to help.
“If they want to follow the science, then the science says cannabis is an excellent replacement for opioid drugs and they should be considering it as a priority,” he added. “With the mounting death toll, for them to be fining us millions of dollars for saving lives, it’s just really surreal.”
Moms Stop the Harm has been working to bring light to the opioid and illicit drug problems in the province. On April 14, the group held a march in Victoria talking about the issue.
Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, told CHEK News cannabis use for pain is terrific.
“Cannabis has a pretty good track record of not being addictive, of not generally being dangerous for most people,” McBain said. “We’re all for it.”
She added that her son died of an opioid overdose and if he had been given the option of something that worked for him besides Oxycodone, maybe he’d be with us today.
Smith is waiting to hear from the Solicitor General for a court date to fight the fines.