Victoria Looks to Allow On-Site Consumption for Compassion Clubs

The City of Victoria will consider allowing compassion clubs to provide medical patients the ability to consume cannabis on-site, in a motion to be discussed Nov. 3.

The city’s regulations for dispensaries prohibit using medical cannabis at the shops since going into effect Sept. 23, but councillors are now asking for an amendment for compassion clubs that have operated for years in the city.

Councillors Marianne Alto, Jeremy Loveday and Charlayne Thornton-Joe have proposed that compassion clubs operating continuously since 2009 be allowed on-site consumption, noting that the clubs “have operated without incident for decades, providing non-profit service for Victorians requiring medical cannabis, including the option of consuming cannabis onsite.”

They say that requiring medical patients that need to smoke their cannabis to do so at home puts undue hardship on renters who may face eviction for doing so.

“They need a safe place to do it. That’s one example why having a safe space for people to consume their medicine, if they legitimately need it, makes sense. They shouldn’t be forced out into the street,” councillor Loveday said.

The councillor said the motion was made to specifically allow only non-profit operations the ability to provide on-site consumption and not open the door to any more lounges to open. The requirement of being in operation since last decade is also aimed to prevent other businesses as reincorporate as a non-profit to allow smoking at their dispensary.

“If it really is about medicine then there shouldn’t be profit involved,” Loveday said. “It should be a non-profit service that’s offered for patients and allows them to consume their medicine in a safe and comfortable place rather than a model that is extracting money from people to give them that space.

Councillor Alto said Victoria’s two compassion clubs “have very unobtrusively and very calmly without any noticeable incidents been providing an opportunity for folks who have had a medicinal need for cannabis to get it and to use it on site.”

Earlier this month, the city ordered cannabis lounge Green Ceiling to close, ticketing owner Ashley Abraham for remaining in business.

Councillors will also discuss separate bylaw changes, next week, allowing dispensaries to house ATMs for customers.