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Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club club to sue governments after raid

Between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of products was taken by the province's Community Safety Unit on March 23.
Ted Smith, founder of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, says it is very vulnerable following the raid. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club plans to file an ­injunction and a lawsuit against the ­provincial government following a raid of the club’s products.

Club founder Ted Smith estimates between $80,000 and $100,000 worth of products was taken on March 23 by the ­Community Safety Unit, an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General that focuses on the illegal production and sale of cannabis.

Nearly $33,000 cash was also seized, including $19,000 in GST and payroll taxes.

The club plans to file a ­lawsuit against the provincial and federal governments because of the raid and apply for an injunction to ask for an end to enforcement while the suit is ongoing, Smith said.

“In the meantime, we are very vulnerable,” he said.

Canada’s oldest ­“compassion club” has openly sold cannabis products since 1996.

The club contravenes current law, which does not allow for storefronts to sell medical products, and Health Canada has a 10 mg THC limit on edibles.

The club says that limit is inadequate for many people with chronic pain.

“We will not stop supplying those medicines that have been keeping people alive for a long time,” Smith said.

Many find ordering medicinal cannabis online inaccessible, and it doesn’t allow patients to ask questions of those with expertise, Smith said.

There has been a lot of fear and anxiety in members worried the club was shut down, Smith said, but he and staff are committed to providing cannabis products despite potential future raids.

Mark Miller, a stroke ­survivor, said he would be in pain constantly without the variety of products — salves, ointments, edible products and more — on offer that provide relief from his spasms.

A member for 20 years, ­Margaret Lang said the club’s products are the only thing that help her sleep.

“Let us get our medicine, my God,” she said, appealing to the province.

Smith is bracing for more raids.

“This has been a very long struggle, for decades,” Smith said.

Smith and the club’s ­society were fined a total of $6.5 million in February 2022 for ­selling marijuana illegally at its ­Johnson Street site. The fine is under appeal, Smith said.

The fine was imposed ­following an inspection in May 2019 and raids at the unlicensed, non-profit dispensary in November 2019 and July 2020.

The Community Safety Unit is responsible for enforcement under the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. Investigations are the result of both proactive strategies and complaints from the public, police, legal cannabis operators, government ­agencies and others, the ministry has said.

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