Clients of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club gather outside the store on Johnson Street as part of a 420 celebration. (Photo courtesy of Zenon Kai Imaging/Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club)

Clients of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club gather outside the store on Johnson Street as part of a 420 celebration. (Photo courtesy of Zenon Kai Imaging/Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club)

Victoria Buyers Cannabis Club’s lease renewed

Club has applied for an exemption to continue providing lower-cost products with higher doses

People who rely on the Victoria Buyers Cannabis Club for products that help with their medical conditions can breathe a sigh of relief. For the time being, at least.

Ted Smith, who founded the Victoria Buyers Cannabis Club in 1996, confirmed that his landlord has agreed to renew the lease at 826 Johnson St. for four more years, effective April 1.

The landlord, Skipper Properties Ltd., had indicated in February that the lease would not be renewed after receiving a letter from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General threatening possible fines or jail time if the lease wasn’t terminated.

ALSO READ: Landlord terminating Victoria cannabis compassion club lease following pressure from province

“Our lawyers convinced the landlord’s lawyers that we had reasonable grounds to fight the province’s decision,” Smith explained. “That’s the leg we’re standing on and we’ve never wavered from that since we started 25 years ago. We were really shocked that our landlord was ready to fight with us.

“We’re pleased that we don’t have to move and set up a tent at City Hall, which seemed to be our only option.”

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club provides patients who have a certificate from their doctor – many suffering from cancer – more affordable and more potent products to help deal with their pain and conditions. Many of the products available since legalization in 2018 are limited in strength and or much more expensive than what the club provides, Smith noted.

“It was tempting to open to recreational use when cannabis was legalized,” Smith admitted. “But our focus was and always will be our patients.”

Smith has applied to Health Canada for an exemption that would allow the club to continue providing lower-cost products with higher doses. The club has been raided frequently since legalization.

ALSO READ: Police raid 23-year-old cannabis compassion club in Victoria

He also needs the provincial government to provide an exemption as well, and has been lobbying B.C. cabinet ministers toward that end.

“I understand that some MLAs are advocating for an exemption,” he said. “Our local MLA Grace Lore has been very supportive.”

Smith credits daily protests that began outside the Ministry of Health offices on Blanshard Street on Feb. 17 for helping draw more attention to the situation.

“We were able to engage with people every day who didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. “The response was really good and very positive.”

That included causal conversations with staff waiting for traffic lights, he added.

Despite the legal obstacles on multiple fronts, Smith stressed he and his supporters will do everything in their power to continue to fight for patients’ rights to high-quality, low-cost cannabis medicine.

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club serves between 3,000 and 3,500 clients a month, on average.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Supporters of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club show their support for inexpensive, effective products for patients at a demonstration at the B.C. Legislature. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club)

Supporters of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club show their support for inexpensive, effective products for patients at a demonstration at the B.C. Legislature. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club)

Just Posted

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria rose to 5.7 per cent in March 2021, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to February 2021. But the local unemployment rate remains the among the lowest in Canada. (Black Press Media File)
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 per cent

The increase marks a reversal from recent months, but local economy among the strongest in Canada

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read