24-year-old black market pot shop in Victoria fights for an t

Published Jul 28, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Zolak

We’ve all heard it before, the struggles of black market dispensary owners who would love to join the legal game, but can’t, due to a barrage of barriers that stands in the way, but this situation is one that really hits home with long time cannabis consumers who relied on establishments like it long before legalization brought forward legal opportunities to obtain pot.

The Victoria Buyers Club

The Victoria Buyers Club has been serving the public since several years before legalization garnered enough support to truly start beneficial conversations with governments about the need for cannabis, and the marijuana dispensary first came to be in its current location in 2001. After 24 years of getting to know what consumers want and need and gathering a rather large customer base, the owners of this storefront know that what they’ve got is something worth fighting for.

Seeking government intervention for medical cannabis

The federal government regulates cannabis dispensaries in Canada, and the provincial governments govern the rules and regulations for every recreational dispensary, which has created an enormous dilemma for the owners of the Victoria Buyers Club. Though in recent years, the club has been known to serve the needs that a recreational dispensary would typically offer, their prized line of cannabis goods is intended for medical patients.

Since the Victoria Buyers Club is selling medical products to customers with valid licenses, they should be governed by the federal government, but they cannot get a license, because the federal government doesn’t allow storefront sales for medicinal products. The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch which has been established by the provincial government to oversee recreational dispensaries, has not granted the location a license, but to date, it is unclear as to whether or not the owners have applied for this type of license.

What has been made clear is that this marijuana dispensary wants to serve anyone who might need them, and attempts have been made to come to an agreement with municipal, provincial, and federal governments to somehow make that work. Recently it seemed like they might be getting somewhere in those negotiations, but that all went south when the store was raided on July 15th.

The raid

Several members from the Community Safety Unit of BC attended the storefront location at 826 Johnson Street at 10:30, and shortly after, the police were witnessed raiding the marijuana dispensary by a swath of angered patrons who stood outside holding signs that called for a stop to the interruption of in-person medical cannabis sales. Much of the product that was stored on site was seized and the owners are disheartened, but they promise that they will keep fighting and will re-open as soon as their resources allow.

Disappointed customers

The owners have assured the community that they will be back up and running in no time, but in the meantime, this move from local law enforcement is hurting both the dispensary and all those who have come to rely on the services that it offers. It is obvious that the demand for storefront locations is at an all-time high, but it will take time and pressure for regulations to change that could allow a dispensary such as this one to serve both types of customers under one single license and one roof.

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