4/20: Cannabis activists smoke outside B.C. legislature to push for legalization changes

Ted Smith, founder of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, gave a speech on the importance of continuing to support medical cannabis users. (Hollie Ferguson/News Staff)

Legalization is not what it could be, or what it should be, according to a number of B.C. cannabis activists.

Several were part of a smoke sesh at the B.C. legislature Thursday to celebrate 4/20 and renew support for expanding the rights of medical cannabis users.

Ted Smith, president and founder of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, gave an impassioned speech during the rally, where he touched on why there’s still a need to fight. Despite the blustery weather, a small group of activists and cannabis enthusiasts joined to hear Smith speak.

“Certainly cannabis has been legal for years, but there are a lot of problems with the way legalization has come in,” Smith said.

He spoke of the high prices consumers face when approaching commercial or government stores for cannabis, something he said has an impact on those who need it the most.

“Legalization had a bunch of flaws – some of the ones we saw at the cannabis buyers club were the 10 milligram limits on the THC in edibles, the lack of store fronts for medical use and the lack of consumption spaces, especially for medical users,” Smith said.

For those reasons, Smith said the club continues to refuse to comply with regulations.

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club is an unlicensed dispensary that provides cannabis to people who have documentation of a chronic medical issue that can be treated using cannabis. In doing so, it contravenes the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

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

Smith also touched on why showing support for cannabis users and celebrating on April 20 still matters, regardless of legalization.

“In a lot of ways, 4/20 is a protest and there are a lot of reasons for us to protest,” he said. “Legalization is very flawed, especially when it comes to the medical aspects. But, there are also a lot of reasons to celebrate, there are a lot of things happening that are very positive. At the same time, I think ultimately that April 20 is known world-wide as the cannabis day and it is kind of our day to shine in the sun.”

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, which was raided for the third time in March, is set to file court action against province’s raids next week.

READ MORE: Victoria cannabis club prepares to sue B.C. government following raid

“Certainly the most recent raid made us a lot more careful about where we hide things,” Smith joked. “We will survive and do whatever it takes to continue providing medicine.”

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