At about 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Victoria police and the Community Safety Unit raided the Cannabis Buyers Club’s Johnson Street location.
People inside were asked to identify themselves as employees or leave the premises, and employees were directed to cease selling any products.
A group of supporters was outside the location rallying support and carrying signs. Police remained on scene into the afternoon.
The Cannabis Buyers Club, located at 826 Johnson St., has been open for 23 years, and at its current location since 2001. Within the establishment is a smoking room, where members of the club can smoke or vape cannabis in a private setting.
In order to purchase medicinal cannabis at the establishment, proof of condition from a medical practitioner is required. High concentrate products are also sold at the location but the selling of them has not been legalized by the government.
Dylyn Wilkinson, who prefers the xe/xem pronouns, stood outside the shop as police raided the inside holding a sign. Wilkinson suffers from PTSD and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a disorder that affects connective tissues supporting the skin, bones and many other organs and tissues, and credits the medicinal cannabis for saving xers life.
“The medicine I’ve been able to access here has been the main thing for me being alive for the last five or six years,” Wilkinson said. “The hoops you have to jump through to get acknowledgement for conditions that aren’t visibly disabling and aren’t well-known makes it difficult to get support and a lot of time the pharmaceutical options for treatment make you unable to do anything else.”
Wilkinson said the medicinal cannabis xe receives from the Cannabis Buyer’s Club, as well as the community the club has formed, has helped xem in moments of panic.
Dylan Nickerson, community liaison and employee of the Cannabis Buyer’s Club, said they’re not going to let the raid stop them from doing business.
“We’ll open up again with new product and continue to serve the people who need it the most,” Nickerson said. “We have members right now that are dying and we are not going to cut their source of medicine off … especially products that cannot and will not be made available through the government.”
A statement from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General confirmed community safety unit officers were active at multiple locations in Victoria this week but said the Ministry cannot provide comment on specific complaints or enforcement actions.
According to the statement, community safety unit officers have visited about 200 unlicensed retailers to date to educate and raise awareness about cannabis laws. Officers also shared information on how to obtain a non-medical cannabis retail license. In all cases, “significant” amounts of cannabis in different forms have been seized.
The province is responsible for regulating the sales of non-medical cannabis, while the federal government regulates medical cannabis. Storefront sales of medical cannabis are not permitted by the federal government but authorized medical users can have cannabis shipped from a Health Canada licensed producer.
They can also register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis or designate someone else to produce cannabis on their behalf for medical purposes.
The Ministry said the public can expect to see increasing enforcement activity.
“Our goal from the start has been voluntary compliance, however, those who continue to operate illegally should be warned that if they do not obtain a provincial licence they will have to close or will face increased enforcement action from the CSU,” the statement said.
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