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Cannabis compassion club served with eviction notice from Victoria location

Club says it didn’t receive enough notice and will defy order to leave Johnson Street location until new facility is ready.
Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club Society and founder Ted Smith in February 2022. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, a medical cannabis provider that doesn’t comply with legislation, says it is planning to defy an eviction notice from its landlord that requires them to be out of their downtown location by Jan. 2, 2023.

Lawyers for Bluebird Core Associates Inc., a Calgary storage company that purchased 826 Johnson St. about two months ago, served the eviction notice on Dec. 14. The street-front location has been home to the club since 2001.

“We just can’t move out that quickly,” said Ted Smith, founder of the club. “We had been planning to move anyway as the landlord had indicated they were planning to do renovations to the space, but our new space needs renovations — including a wheelchair ramp, before we can move in.”

With so little notice for such massive changes, the club has no choice but to defy the landlord and continue operating at 826 Johnson St. until their new facility is ready for occupancy, which is estimated to take three months.

Smith believes the new landlord recently discovered that the club has been operating outside the law since 1996 and is not in compliance with the Cannabis Act. The previous landlord had known but had apparently not shared the information with the new owner. “We are on pins and needles as to the outcome. It is frightening for us and the 3,000 clients who depend on us for their cannabis needs.”

While there is a federal program where a person can access cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is all done online. “We have clients who do not have a credit card nor access to a computer. Our patients need a storefront location to access their medication.” He calls the federal medical cannabis program unconstitutional, inadequate, expensive and inaccessible to many patients.

“We have been good tenants and good neighbours. While we are shocked that the new landlord would take such an abrupt, harsh approach to an organization with a long history of caring for the sick and dying, it is hoped that an agreement can be reached to allow the club to smoothly move into its next home.”

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