Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club files lawsuit, injunction against province

Ted Smith, the founder of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club and the club’s lawyer Kirk Tousaw, stand with supporters outside of the Victoria courthouse May 2 prior to filing a lawsuit against the province. Hollie Ferguson/Victoria News photo

The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) has filed a lawsuit and injunction against the province, citing repeated raids, fines and harassment.

Filing day came May 2, after years of preparation and many steps backwards, VCBC president and founder Ted Smith said in a press conference prior to entering the Victoria courthouse.

“The onslaught continues, the threats against our landlords and the actions, including the last raid on March 23, have made it so that we really have no choice but to file these documents today,” Smith said.

VCBC is an unlicensed dispensary, operating in contravention of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, and provides cannabis to people who have documentation of a chronic medical issue that can be treated using cannabis.

READ MORE: Victoria cannabis club gets third raid, already facing $6.5 million in fines

The lawsuit filed by VCBC argues medical cannabis patients are disenfranchised by high prices and low dosages available at federally regulated retailers.

“The Charter rights that we are alleging are being infringed are primarily those in Sec. 7 in the Charter, which guarantees you the right to life, liberty and security of the person,” VCBC lawyer Kirk Tousaw said.

At this time, the club is still awaiting a response from Health Canada regarding a Controlled Drugs and Substances Act exemption, which would authorize VCBC to operate outside of the current cannabis legalization framework.

“We are looking forward to getting our case before a competent court to resolve these issues, which not only affect our patients but impact medical cannabis users across Canada,” Smith said in a press release. “Our amazing lawyers have prepared solid constitutional arguments that should both protect our organization and force Health Canada to make important changes to their program.”

The club has amassed $6.5 million in fines due to operating without a license and recently had to move locations after being evicted.

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

In disputes against the fines, Smith said VCBC was previously able to argue implementation of the fines was not constitutional, but regulations have changed. As a result, the lawsuit will also argue abuse of power by the provincial government.

“We have a lot of high hopes for this,” Tousaw said. “We think we will prevail because at the end of the day, we stand in the shoes of the patients that need us the most.”

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