For Immediate Release
Friday January 6, 2023
Victoria. B.C.: Less than a year after reopening the smoking room in the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club as COVID diminished, the compassion club is shutting it down forever next week in an attempt to appease new landlords upset at the illegal nature of the organizations activities. Named “The Box” when it was a small closet, the smoking lounge has been a critical component of the club’s harm reduction mandate since 2001, the year the VCBC moved into 826 Johnson St. With such short notice, the non-profit society has been unable to secure an acceptable location until the end of March, forcing them to fight the landlord to remain in their home in the meantime.
The club is waiting for a hearing with the B.C. Cannabis Secretariat to argue against $6.5 million in fines issued last year, after raids by the Community Safety Unit in 2019 and 2020. At the same time, the VCBC is also waiting for Health Canada to respond to a request for an exemption to the Cannabis Act, sent in two years ago. In the middle of all of this, the building they have operated in for over two decades sold last fall to Bluebird Self-Storage Inc, which soon served the non-profit society with an eviction notice effective Jan 2, 2023.
Starting in a van in January 1996, the VCBC now has over 8,600 members and is the oldest compassion club in Canada, marking its 27th anniversary this month. Though it was impossible for the VCBC to move out as fast as the eviction notice served on December 14 demanded, the group has found a new home that will be ready by the end of March. By conceding to shut The Box before moving, the club hopes to ease the new landlord’s concerns of fire and potential liability while we wait to settle into our new home.
Last call in The Box will be at 6:30 Monday January 9, 2023. After that patients in Victoria will have no safe place to consume their medicine in public. Once the new facility has been established, the group has hopes it can secure a location for patients to go to smoke and socialize.
Ironically, Island Health has set up a safe smoking facility for hard drugs just a few blocks away.
For more information contact Ted Smith at 250-415-1063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.