by Ted Smith
With little fanfare, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club just entered its 19th year of distributing cannabis products to patients this past weekend. Despite the lack of fireworks, there is a lot to celebrate. In just a short time, on March 20, the club will be the talk of the country as its former head baker, Owen Smith, stands before the Supreme Court of Canada with the first ever medical cannabis case they have heard.
Under the steady leadership of Dieter MacPherson, the VCBC has weathered many situations in the past year. Last April 1, a new medical cannabis program was brought into effect by Health Canada, generating a great deal of activity behind the scenes to prepare for any potential consequences or opportunities. Luckily the club did not invest any resources in attempting to acquire Licensed Producer certification, unlike other organizations who wasted a great deal of resources trying or even stopped operating in fear of raids.
One of the ironic results of our court case and work in general is a proliferation of dispensaries across British Columbia. Of course, this increase in competition has affected the club, with sales being about 30% less than 2 years ago. It is only by working hard, cutting costs and providing the best personal service in the industry that the VCBC has been able to maintain relatively the same staffing levels through these changes.
Several fundraisers are being planned leading up to the big day in court to help the club pay for the costs of the trial. A silent art auction, at the club and on-line, will end on March 17, helping to raise awareness about the hearing in Ottawa, which is just days after. Recently a cookie monster bong donated by Patrick “Redbeard’ Vrolyk was put up on auction and purchased by Rob Waddell, owner of Planetary Pride in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for an incredible $3,000. All of the money will be to pay for court costs, which are expected to be close to $120,000. While most of those costs are already paid for by the club, it is wonderful getting some financial support from some of the others that stand to gain from this important decision. Keep your ears and eyes open for other fundraisers we are not ready to announce right now.
On a personal note, it has been incredible watching this organization grow from the dream I had in my van 19 years ago. Did I mention it is the oldest surviving medical dispensary in the world? It has been just over 2 years since I turned the club into a non-profit society and the timing could not have been better as I now have to spend my time caring my love, our love, Gayle Quin. Instead of leading the club, I come to it for help. It is a humbling experience. We are so very thankful for everyone’s help in creating and maintaining this fascinating group. This next year the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club is truly going to make Canadian history.