‘Short notice’: Victoria cannabis club faces eviction from new landlord

The eviction comes after the new landlord expressed concerns about the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club not having a business license. (Courtesy of B.C. Tenants)

The recent sale of the building that has been home to the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club for 21 years had led to the new owner issuing an eviction notice to the unlicensed dispensary.

Ted Smith, of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, said the eviction comes as a disappointment, but not a shock.

When the new owners took over the building, Smith was aware the club would have to relocate when renovations to turn the building into a storage unit space began. This would take some time, offering the club a chance to get their affairs in order.

After expressing concerns about the club’s lack of a business licence, Smith said the landlord took the step of issuing an eviction notice, even though he provided them with letters of support from the City of Victoria.

In a letter from the club’s lawyer, the club asserts they disagree that the landlord has the right to terminate their lease, but “does not desire to be in an adversarial relationship with its landlord.”

The letter also states the club is actively seeking a new place to call home, but will require more time than is set out in the eviction notice.

“They wanted us to stop our sales immediately as of last week and move out by Jan. 2, but it is far too short notice to do that,” Smith said. “We can’t move as quickly as they like and hopefully they are OK with that.”

Smith’s focus remains on the health and well-being of the patients that use the club, including people who have a documented chronic medical issue that can be treated using cannabis.

The club is an unlicensed business that breaches the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, which is the primary issue the new landlord has with continuing the lease.

Patients can access cannabis by registering with a federally licensed seller or by registering with Health Canada to cultivate their own for medical purposes within the current medical cannabis framework.

READ MORE: Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club official: Cannabis Act legislative review may threaten medical marijuana program

Smith, however, feels that the current framework for medical cannabis is restrictive for a number of reasons and thus operates outside of the current law.

“Our patients’ lives are first and foremost for us, so we have defied a number of regulations and laws in order to do that and an order from the landlord is not much different,” he said. “We believe that the charter of rights and freedoms is the highest law of the land, and we are acting in accordance with that charter, even though regulations and laws in the cannabis field are not.”

Until the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club can argue their case for changes to the medical cannabis field in court, Smith said situations like this will continue to pose issues for the club.

READ MORE: Feds name doctors, academics and lawyer to Cannabis Act review panel

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