LEGAL UPDATES FROM THE VICTORIA CANNABIS BUYERS CLUB
If you are wondering what is happening with the various legal challenges the VCBC faces, you are not alone. With four different court battles unfolding, it is difficult for most patients to follow what is happening as we wait for dates to be set to get in front of a judge. So here it is, in a nutshell.
- A judicial review of Health Canada’s decision to deny the VCBC request for an exemption from the Cannabis Act is awaiting a court date before the Federal Court of Canada. When the club made the application, it was understood that Health Canada would likely turn it down and we would respond by appealing to the courts. We submitted hundreds of letters of support from our members with that request, including several letters from the Victoria CIty Council and leading drug policy researchers.
- A lawsuit and injunction has been filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. against the provincial and federal governments in an effort to stop the ongoing harassment of the VCBC and its landlords. Filed this spring after the third raid on the VCBC, shortly after moving into its new location, this court challenge will protect the club from future raids and other actions.
- An administrative hearing has been in process by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General for several months to determine whether the $6.5 million fines against the club violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead of having a courtroom, this has been done by filing paperwork back and forth. Ultimately, we expect the director of the B.C. Cannabis Secretariat to uphold the fines, in which case we will appeal that decision to the courts.
- A Civil Forfeiture Action has been filed in the Supreme Court of B.C. regarding the $30,000 that was seized in the last raid. Ironically, almost $18,000 of that money was designated for GST and employee deductions.
Our legal team of Jack Lloyd and Kirk Tousaw have been doing an outstanding job juggling these matters and preparing for the day we get to court. Even more outstanding, they are only charging the club an extremely reasonable rate, so we are not getting buried with legal bills while we keep this fight going. We are extremely blessed to have these hard-working, thoughtful and compassionate lawyers working with us and we appreciate any support we can get to help cover their fees.
The main two arguments that we are basing our challenges on are the 10 mg THC limit on edibles and the fact that the legal medical cannabis system is mail order only. Other courts have made rulings on these matters recently, confirming our belief that these restrictions are unnecessary and unconstitutional. With growing support for these regulations to be changed from many sectors, we are confident that the judiciary will force Health Canada to once again amend its program to better suit the needs of patients.
Once a court date has been set for any of these matters, we will be making public announcements. It is our intention to not only fill the courtroom that the hearing is held in, but to have patients and friends fill the hallways and streets around the courthouse. Since these matters are, in part, dependent on our arguments that granting the club an exemption is in the public interest, it will be important for us to show how much public support we have.