Clients of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club gather outside the store on Johnson Street as part of a 420 celebration and in support of inexpensive, effective cannabis products for people with medical certificates. (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 and in support of inexpensive, effective cannabis products for people with medical certificates. (Photo courtesy of Zenon Kai Imaging/Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club)

Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, its founder facing total of $6.5 million in fines

Penalties related to Community Safety Unit enforcement in 2019, 2020

Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club is discussing with its lawyers about possibly disputing large fines issued to the club and its founder.

The B.C. Community Safety Unit (CSU) has imposed fines of $3,235,465 against both the club and founder Ted Smith. The near $6.5 million was calculated based on cannabis product seizures and sales during enforcement in November 2019 and July 2020.

Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club on Thursday released a CSU letter, dated Jan. 24, outlining the fines. The letter said the club contravened the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act and the fines were calculated based on twice the retail value of cannabis sold, possessed for the purpose of sale or produced during the enforcement periods.

Since its doors opened in 1996, the club has been providing 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. It’s also been vocal about cannabis products available since legalization being limited in strength.

“The VCBC has refused to shut its doors and leave its patients without the medicines they require at prices they can afford, especially in the midst of an opiate crisis and a global pandemic,” the club said in a release.

READ: Victoria Buyers Cannabis Club’s lease renewed

CSU officers attended the 826 Johnson St. location on Nov. 14, 2019, and July 15, 2020, after the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch learned and confirmed there was no provincial license associated with the address. Cannabis products and club documents were seized on both occasions.

The letter referenced how there were no medical professionals operating from the site when officers attended and club was not licensed by Health Canada to sell medical cannabis at the time of the raids.

“Legalization has been a step backward for patients across Canada,” Cannabis Buyers Club’s release said. “Thousands of dispensaries have been shut down across the country, leaving patients without access to the high-dosage, low-cost cannabis products they had access to for years under prohibition.”

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