An unlicensed cannabis dispensary in Victoria has been shut down and raided by the province’s community safety unit for the second time since November.
Members of the B.C.’s Community Safety Unit (CSU) went to the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Victoria police were also seen at the dispensary.
The store, which is located at 826 Johnson St., was shut down and inventory was seized. A public notice of seizure is now on the dispensary’s door.
As the seizure was taking place, supporters of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club held up signs outside the dispensary, saying the shop provides medical cannabis.
Founder Ted Smith said Wednesday’s raid is a surprise as the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has been trying to work with municipal, provincial and federal governments to get an exemption in order to sell their products.
According to Smith, the amount of THC in a cannabis product and the accessibility of Health Canada’s medical cannabis programs are two issues the club has had with the provincial government. Smith said people at the club have to provide proof of a medical problem.
“We had hoped that diplomatic efforts would prevent a further raid from a club but obviously that’s not the case,” Smith said.
“It’s going to really hurt or club but more importantly, it’s going to really hurt a lot of patients.”
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said as this is an active case, it is unable to “comment on specific complaints or enforcement actions or comment on planned activities or actions that the CSU will or will not undertake in response to specific cases or situations.”
The ministry said while the province regulates sales of non-medical cannabis, the federal government regulates medical cannabis, including access to medical cannabis. Storefront sales are not permitted by the federal government.
According to the ministry, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has authority over legal non-medical cannabis retail stores. The Victoria Buyer’s Club is not an authorized non-medical cannabis retail store under the LCRB. Commercial cannabis producers in Canada require a licence from the federal government and the Victoria Cannabis Buyers’ Club does not have a federal production licence, the ministry said.
The dispensary has been open for 24 years. The current location opened in 2001. It was shut down on Nov. 14, 2019, but reopened a day later.
Smith said back in 2018 that the club would not apply for a provincial licence following legalization because the club sells edibles for medicinal marijuana patients. To become legal, the club would have had to stop those sales.
Starting this October 2019, cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals did become legal in Canada. Previously only cannabis plant and oral sprays and capsules were allowed. Health Canada, which regulates cannabis products, requires 60 days’ notice before making a new product available for sale.
Smith said the club’s supporters plan to protest the shutdown and seizure at the constituency office of Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA and Finance Minister Carole James later today, followed by a rally at the B.C. legislature on Thursday.
The Ministry said
- While the Province regulates sales of non-medical cannabis, the federal government regulates medical cannabis, including access to medical cannabis; storefront sales are not permitted by the federal government.
- The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has authority over legal non-medical cannabis retail stores. The Victoria Buyer’s Club is not an authorized non-medical cannabis retail store under the LCRB.
- Commercial cannabis producers in Canada require a licence from the federal government and the Victoria Cannabis Buyers’ Club does not have a federal production licence.
- Cannabis products from licensed producers are strictly regulated to ensure they are fit for human use and consumption including mandatory testing for the presence of solvent residues and contaminants such as pesticides, mould, bacteria, and heavy metals. They’re also tested to confirm THC and CBD amounts.
- Cannabis from illegal sources may be inaccurately labelled and may contain pesticide residues or other contaminants that are not permitted in legal products.
- We encourage all cannabis users to obtain their cannabis from a legal source: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cannabislicensing/map
Smith said the club also plans to reopen on Thursday.