Legal Politics

Health Canada Expert Panel Meets With Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club

For Immediate Release

Thursday June 8, 2023

Victoria, B.C.:  Health Canada chose an Expert Panel to review the Cannabis Act five years after it was brought into effect. We held a meeting with the panel and members and staff of the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club yesterday to discuss the benefits of storefront access like our club to provide low cost, high dosage cannabis products.  Ironically, this meeting comes one week after the Licensing and Medical Access Directorate informed the VCBC that Health Canada would not grant the organization an exemption from the Cannabis Act.  While the organization is hopeful that the expert panel will recommend the government change the laws to allow storefront medical access and higher than 10 mg THC in edibles, it remains to be seen what the federal government will do once the results are made public this fall.

“We are very pleased the expert panel took the time to hear from our organization.”, stated founder Ted Smith. “The VCBC is the last compassion club left operating in the country.  It was important for them to hear how we function and why we are so important to our patients so they can consider recommendations that would allow for storefront medical distribution of high-dosage edible products.”

Patients Corrie Yelland, Julia Veintrop and Richard Clemens explained to the panel the value of high THC products when fighting cancer and trying to wean off opiates.  For many patients using 1000 mg a day, or more, is critical for them to fight pain, cancer and opiate withdrawal, and both of these members did an amazing job explaining the safety and benefits of high dosage THC products.  Corrie has become an international star after going online to help other patients fighting cancer, after she cured herself by making cannabis suppositories before they were available at compassion clubs.

Another pioneer in the medical cannabis field, Hilary Black, was listening to the meeting and felt the patients did an excellent job sharing their story in the short time they had.  “Everyone was very well prepared”, and the group “came off very professional and authentic.”  Hilary is the founder of the B.C. Compassion Club Society, which was forced to close its doors in Vancouver last year because of difficulties transitioning into the legal system, Hilary typically would be appearing at these types of meetings with Health Canada in the past. We were thankful to have her attend and witness this momentous meeting with the Expert Panel. 

The first question from the chair Morris Rosenberg, asked us about training staff and where our knowledge comes from.  After founder Ted Smith briefly described the process currently used at the club, he acknowledged that work had just begun to create a standardized training program that could be used across the country.  Staff Julia Furstenau and former staff Julia Veintrop added that their knowledge came from their experience as patients first who learned to use cannabis from other patients before becoming employees of the organization.  The theme of patients helping patients to develop a working knowledge of the plant based on personal experience and anecdotes was repeated throughout the meeting.  This communal development of knowledge and peer to peer education is a result of doctors and nurses who lack real experience with cannabis giving them only theoretical information, if that.

Recently B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, has gone on record asking Health Canada to increase the 10 mg THC limit for recreational sales.  Many organizations and government bodies have been informing Health Canada that the limit is too low, though exactly how high the expert panel will recommend remains to be seen.  One of the main reasons the 10 mg THC limit is being challenged is because consumers are purchasing high-strength products almost exclusively by illegal websites due to lack of legal options.

Even if the panel recommends Health Canada increase the THC limits in edibles and to allow storefront medical distribution, the VCBC will still be forced to go ahead with a lawsuit and injunction against the federal and provincial governments, while at the same time applying for a judicial review of Health Canada’s decision to deny the club an exemption. Until a judge grants the VCBC an injunction, the compassion club and its landlord are still vulnerable to further punitive measures from the B.C. Community Safety Unit.  No dates for those hearings have been set.

For more information call Ted Smith at 250-415-1063 or