At 4:28 PM on April 20th, 2022, The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) received an ominous email; Health Canada was looking to have a meeting. Not only that, they said it would take at least forty-five minutes and wanted to talk within a week. On Wednesday, April 27, 2021, the VCBC sat down with Health Canada. It was history in the making for cannabis in Canada. Here’s what happened.
Why VCBC meets Health Canada?
At the end of 2020, the VCBC formally filed for an exemption from the Cannabis Act. Until last week, the club had heard nothing back.
For the VCBC, a meeting with Health Canada meant a chance to plead their case. Considering the club’s current standing with the provincial community safety unit, legal integration has never been more important. Earlier this year, the club received provincial fines totaling over 6 million dollars. Health Canada and the Provincial CSU are totally separate government offices, however, support from one may affect the other.
Photo by Matt Love – Ted Smith at the VCBC during one its latest raids
Why should the VCBC be granted an exemption?
The needs of medical patients cannot be met under the current licensing system. Medical patients are expected to register with a single licensed producer or go to a retail store, leaving them without affordable access to:
High dose edibles and variety – something critical when dealing with dietary conditions
Higher dose cannabis products
Despite the risk, there are a few organizations in Canada that still supply these products. The VCBC is one of the last.
The meeting with Health Canada
Last Wednesday, the VCBC met with Health Canada. While they did not get the official stamp of approval regarding an exemption, the meeting was positive. The VCBC’s manager Jacq Kittel wrote about the meeting on the VCBC’s blog: The intent of the meeting was to ask some clarifying questions on our application and to ask us what we want the exemption to look like in the end.
What does the future hold for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers club? So far, the only thing certain is that there will be more meetings with Health Canada. In the meantime, despite the risk, the club will press on and continue its operations.
Jacq Kittel explained the club’s position:
At the end of the meeting, Ted made it clear that we want very badly to be in compliance with the legal medical cannabis regulations. We continue to operate outside the legal regime because we will not sacrifice the well-being of our patients. It is our strongest desire to work with the government to develop a distribution model that meets the needs of all the stakeholders. Ted explained that if we cannot develop a pathway to work with Health Canada, and if they deny our exemption application, we will be forced to take the judicial path to take the government to court, again.