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Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, one of the oldest compassion clubs, served eviction notice

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Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club remains defiant, arguing it will need more time to set up shop elsewhere

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The Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club (VCBC) could soon be out on the street and its customers out of luck if a decision by its new landlord to evict the unlicensed pot shop in the new year is successful.

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According to Vancouver Island Free Daily, the building which has housed the dispensary for the last two decades has been sold. VCBC describes itself as providing medicinal cannabis to people with incurable physical ailments since 1996.

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That sale about two months ago to Bluebird Core Associates Inc., whose roots are in Toronto self-storage, was quickly followed by an eviction notice for the store.

  1. FILE: Baker and customer service employee, Shawn Saunders, sells product to a customer, at the Cannabis Buyers Club, in Victoria B.C., Thursday June 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

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  2. FILE: Baker and customer service employee, Shawn Saunders, sells product to a customer, at the Cannabis Buyers Club, in Victoria B.C., Thursday June 11, 2015.

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  3. FILE: Baker and customer service employee, Shawn Saunders, sells product to a customer, at the Cannabis Buyers Club, in Victoria B.C., Thursday June 11, 2015. /

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Renovations are reportedly being made to the building to turn it into a storage space, Vancouver Island Free Daily quotes the club’s Ted Smith as saying.

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Though having to move is disappointing, it is not entirely unexpected. Still, some might suggest the new landlord is being a bit of a Scrooge.

In a tweet on Dec. 22, the dispensary noted it was notified on Dec. 14, less than two weeks before Christmas, that the plan was to have the eviction notice take effect on Jan. 2, 2023.

The cannabis club, which has a history of fighting back, suggested the time frame was not possible. “With so little notice for such massive changes, the VCBC has no choice but to defy the landlord and continue operating” at its current location “until a new facility can be prepared, which will take an estimated three months.”

Pointing out that the pot shop will be closed for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, both statutory holidays in Canada, “we expect to be open for business as usual Monday Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. in spite of these threats.”

In a letter from the club’s lawyer, VCBC notes it disagrees the landlord can terminate its lease, but that it is not trying to be adversarial. That is why the pot shop is actively looking for a new home but makes clear any such search will take more time than the Jan. 2, 2023 date specified in the eviction notice.

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All cannabis retail stores require a provincial licence to operate in Victoria, notes information from the city. Retailers must also operate in a location zoned for cannabis sales and obtain a Cannabis Business Licence from the City of Victoria.

It’s certainly not the first eviction scare the club has received. It charged in a statement released in February 2021 that the province was threatening the then landlord, which could mean eviction as of the end of that March.

In light of the latest eviction notice, “our patients’ lives are first and foremost for us, so we have defied a number of regulations and laws in order to do that and an order from the landlord is not much different,” Smith told Vancouver Island Free Daily.

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“We believe that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the highest law of the land, and we are acting in accordance with that charter, even though regulations and laws in the cannabis field are not,” he argued.

In early 2020, local city council reportedly agreed to help VCBC stay open via a motion and vote. “Council’s motion was to advocate for an exemption, to help the Buyers Club’s efforts to get one — it is the province of B.C. that will need to provide an exemption,” a city official said at the time, per Mugglehead Magazine.

This past February, the Victoria Times Colonist reported the compassion club and founder Smith had been fined $6.5 million for selling cannabis illegally. The proposed fine followed an inspection in May 2019 and two raids in November 2019 and July 2020.

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