Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club Avoids Eviction

Article by Roxanne Egan-Elliott, Times Colonist

Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club avoids eviction Roxanne Egan-Elliott / Times Colonist TC_191038_web_WEB_VKA-hemp-12020928114349970.jpg Ted Smith at the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club with letters of support and some items from their inventory in September 2020. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST Members of the Victoria Cannabis ­Buyers Club were relieved Tuesday to learn the club’s landlord had agreed to renew the lease for the Johnson Street storefront, despite a letter from the province threatening fines and potential jail time.

Members of the Victoria Cannabis ­Buyers Club were relieved Tuesday to learn the club’s landlord had agreed to renew the lease for the Johnson Street storefront, despite a letter from the province threatening fines and potential jail time.

The club, which sells a range of ­cannabis products at higher doses than what is available through the legal ­system and at lower prices, has operated out of its current location for 20 years and was facing eviction at the end of March. In early February, the ­province’s unit responsible for ­enforcing cannabis regulations sent a letter to the club’s landlord, Skipper Properties Ltd., warning of steep fines and possible jail time if they renewed the lease.

Founder Ted Smith said he was stunned when he found out last week the landlord would sign a three-year lease with the club.

“People are so happy. People have been worried for their lives at times,” he said. “It’s been extremely stressful. I’ve heard from a lot of people in ­distress, out of fear of not knowing where to go and what to do, if we’re not here for them.”

Before the landlord’s change of heart, Smith was planning to set up a tent at Victoria City Hall to continue serving the club’s more than 8,000 members, whom he describes as mostly older people who are using cannabis to deal with issues such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain and mental-health problems.

Unlike recreational dispensaries, the unlicensed club requires prospective members to provide proof of a chronic condition with a doctor’s signature.

Nikki Jackson, a patient of the club since 2012 and communications officer for the past two years, said she cried tears of relief for herself and other members when she heard the club was no longer facing eviction.

She credits the club’s products with helping her manage digestive issues that she says nearly killed her as a teenager. She made the switch from more than a dozen pharmaceutical medications to cannabis products from the club after a manic episode.

“It’s the only form of medicine that I use now throughout any type of injury, pain, anxiety, digestive issues. I use it for all of my day-to-day life things. I really can’t function without it,” ­Jackson said.

She consumes high-dose edibles that are not available through the legal system, which sets a limit of no more than 10 milligrams of THC per unit.

The renewed lease brings relief, but it doesn’t mean the club is out of the woods, Jackson said.

The club has been working on an application to Health Canada requesting an exemption from Canada’s Cannabis Act to allow the non-profit to continue providing high-dose and low-cost ­products without the threat of raids.

Health Canada regulates the sale of medical cannabis and prohibits storefront sales, while the province regulates non-medical cannabis sales.

Read the full article here.

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