Activism Canada Politics

Press Release: Victoria City Council letter in support of VCBC exemption from Cannabis Act.

Thurs Jan 30, 2020

For Immediate Release

Victoria, B.C.: In an unprecedented move to protect a compassion club, Victoria city council voted unanimously to request the BC Cabinet to grant an exemption to the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club on January 9, 2020.  After being raided by the Community Safety Unit on Nov 14, 2019, the VCBC has pursued politicians from all three levels of government to gain their support for a temporary exemption to give the legal system time to mature before the club transitions.  The letter from the Victoria Mayor and council dated January 21, 2020 is the first time in Canada that a municipal government has supported an exemption for a compassion club. 

Several concerns of the VCBC were included in the letter, including a request for the B.C. Cabinet to give the non-profit society a fair hearing to fully explain the situation before a decision is made.  Since this has never been done before, the VCBC would like to guide the process along so that its patients can continue to have access to the products and services the club has provided for decades. Given the unique role the VCBC has played in providing high quality medicines to the sick and dying for over 24 years, including its fight to the Supreme Court of Canada to make cannabis extracts legal for patients in a unanimous decision in 2105, it is only fair that the BC NDP give the organization a chance to state its case.

Weekly rallies have been organized by the VCBC since the raid to continue to apply pressure on local politicians to help the organization.  Tomorrow afternoon a rally will be held in front of the BC MInistry of Health where members of the club will explain to staff how the increasing penalties the VCBC is facing affects the health and well-being of patients suffering from pain, addiction and mental health issues, patients this government has mandates to assist rather than harm.  Other attempts to inform Cabinet Ministers and back-benchers through meetings, letters and seeking them out in public are also adding to the pressure to grant this exemption.

Here is the full text of the letter from Mayor Lisa Helps to Premier John Horgan.

The Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
PO Box 9041 Stn Prov Govt
January 21, 2020 

Dear Premier Horgan,

I am writing on behalf of Victoria City Council to advise the Province of the valuable service that the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) has provided to medicinal users of cannabis for the past two decades and to request the Provincial government consider authorizing an exemption to the VCBC under section 130 of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, to allow the Club to continue to provide responsible access and a safe, welcoming community space for medical cannabis users in the City of Victoria and Capital Region. 

The VCBC has provided a compassionate, not-for-profit, safe, inclusive and welcoming space for medical users of cannabis in the City of Victoria for more than two decades. Over the past days, weeks and months Council has heard from concerned  medical cannabis users that they might lose access to the type of service provided by the VCBC. This could negatively impact consumers health, quality of life and their sense of connection and community.

Legislation adopted by the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, specifically section 130, allows for an exemption from the provincial regulatory provisions when an exemption is deemed advisable by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the provincial Cabinet, As such, it is our position that a temporary   exemption while the business transitions into the legal system would be appropriate and to the Club’s patients.  

The owners of the VCBCare seeking a fair hearing before the BC Cabinet so that a just decision can be made. The owners of the VCBC have also expressed interest in connecting with a senior representative in the B.C Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch to begin drafting a framework for the logistics of this potential exemption so that the B.C Cabinet has the information they need to make a decision. An ideal working group could include a panel made up of officials from the Province, Health Canada, Island Health, the City of Victoria and the VCBC to meet as required to required to discuss the club’s progress towards full compliance with the law. During this process, the VCBC would maintain a medical only mandate and would expect to avoid enforcement until  an exemption decision is made.

On behalf of Council, I look forward to working together to find a solution for the sake of medical  cannabis users in the City of Victoria. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions regarding this letter.


Lisa Helps
Victoria Mayor
Cc Hounourable Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General 
MLA’s representing constituencies in the capital Region 

The official document from the Mayor can be found here:

For more information about the VCBC and how it intends on obtaining this special exemption, please call 250-381-4220 or email