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The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (V-CBC) is the beating heart of the Extract Trial. With thousands of active members, the discreet downtown Victoria dispensary founded by Ted Smith has served medical cannabis patients since 1996. The club barely skipped a beat after I was arrested and has since expanded and improved upon their product line. Four members of the club testified in the trial, while many others donated money to pay our legal fees.

As a result of Ted Smith’s disclosure in the BC Supreme Court in 2012, that the revenue from the club was not being taxed, the Canada Revenue Agency visited the V-CBC, forcing Ted to sell the club and declare bankruptcy. Fortunately, Ted had recently hired Dieter MacPherson, a keen, intelligent young man with a set of skills that would make him the perfect candidate for Executive Director of the new V-CBC.

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(V-CBC staff Dinner, Summer 2012, in Victoria BC)

Dieter was integral to the club’s transition into an incorporated non-profit society. The first AGM (WATCH HERE) was held in October 2013 where the Board of Directors made up of members, staff and the public was voted in. Receipts and labels are now printed for all products as they are sold. He installed software that integrated this new sleek point of sale system into clear record keeping. The software mirrors pharmacy software by tracking member preferences to create useful data sets for research. Dispensaries can help patients keep track of their cannabis use to develop solid data to take back to their doctor. He has noticed more doctors are willing to enter the discussion when their is data to support it.

Dieter used his graphic and web design skills to revamp the websites for the V-CBC and the Cannabis Digest. He helped create educational pamphlets to explain cannabis-drug interactions, edible and topical products and the new non-psychoactive CBD products. He understands the need to clarify pre-conceived notions about cannabis dispensaries to help people learn to appreciate the nuances of helping a large group of marginalized people. After 19 years in operation wearing a figurative trophy necklace of successful court cases, their now exists a tacit understanding that the people helped by the V-CBC could not find help elsewhere.

Dispensaries can differ widely in admission requirements and how well they respect their nieghborhood and their membership. Dieter recognizes the need for different distribution models to ensure comprehensive access to medical cannabis and welcomes the development of standards to regulate dispensaries. One essential service dispensaries provide is access to edible and topical alternatives to the ‘dried marihuana’ permitted by Health Canada: The central issue of The Extract Trial. Edibles offer extended symptom relief for chronic conditions and are now labelled and tracked by batch in case of a product recall.

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(artist rendition of the V-CBC storefront in Victoria, BC)

At a medical cannabis dispensary you will hear many heart-wrenching stories from those of us who have fallen through the cracks. You will also see some of those people turn their lives around with the help of medical cannabis. Under pressure from prohibition and with the perpetuation of social stigma in the media, It is a tough position to be in and tensions can arise, but the work often feels good at the end of the day. Until patients are able to grow their own; have access to affordable product from LP’s; have access to derivative products and until doctors are no longer unwilling gatekeepers, dispensaries like the V-CBC will continue to operate.

He thinks that the current regulations have pit the patients’ right to grow against the commercial market. This has created an atmosphere of ‘Us and Them’. Dieter would like to work together with LP’s to further their common agendas: patient access, understanding, policy making and educating doctors. Dieter has spoken with some LP’s who have been supportive. The V-CBC is a wealth of experience and information and Dieter is open to sharing with whoever wants it. The V-CBC operations manual is available online at www.V-CBC.ca

contact info@v-cbc.ca if you have any questions.

I Interviewed Dieter on Time4Hemp radio that you can listen to and download HERE

 

By Owen Smith

(article previously appeared at Lift)