The Victoria Cannabis Buyers’ Club (VCBC) started helping people with incurable physical medical conditions by providing them with medicinal cannabis and cannabis based products in January of 1996. Through name changes and our rebirth as a non-profit organization, our mandate and commitment to our members has remained the same. The VCBC is one of the oldest compassion clubs in Canada, with over 4500 active members. The VCBC opened its first storefront location in downtown Victoria on Johnson Street. Over ten years later, this remains our home. Our second club was opened in late July of 2002 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Sadly, in 2012 the founder of the Halifax branch was forced to close his doors due to medical reasons. In January 2002, we suffered a raid by police which was followed by raids in March, June, and finally February of 2003. All 11 charges of trafficking that followed these raids were dropped, acquitted, or overturned in the Court of Appeal. In December 2009, our organization’s bakery facility was raided by police. Following our constitutional challenge to the resulting charges, Justice Robert Johnston concluded that the section in Health Canada’s Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) which functionally restricts recipients to using only the dried form of the drug is unconstitutional as it breaches the Charter of Rights section that guarantees “life, liberty, and security of the person.” This effectively granted an exemption to patients in British Columbia which gives them the right to create and consume derivative products created from cannabis. We are current waiting the results of appeal in the BC Supreme Court by Crown Council. The VCBC was transitioned to a nonprofit society by its founder and longtime activist Ted Smith on October 1, 2012. The VCBC accepts anyone who meets our membership requirements. There are no fees for application or membership.
What does the VCBC do?
The VCBC’s primary mandate is to provide its membership with safe access to medicinal cannabis and cannabis related products. To best meet our members’ individual needs, we offer an expansive range of products at reasonable prices. These include dried cannabis inflorescences, mechanically separated kiefs (also known as hash), as well as a wide variety of edible and topical products. We ensure the highest quality and ethical standards are met in the sourcing and production of all our products. VCBC is proud to offer a range of community services that complement our role as a cannabis dispensary. Our Vapour Lounge is a safe and comfortable environment for our members to use their medicine while connecting with a diverse group of people who are united in their healing. Our Vapour Lounge is wheelchair accessible and has a hospital grade HEPA filtration system. A community posting board and a news board allow members to connect and stay up to date with cannabis related news and events. Through activism, education, and research we strive to further the public’s understanding of medicinal cannabis. We assist members and the public alike in navigating the MMPR application process as well as providing the required paperwork to all who ask. We sell locally sourced glass pipes (hand blown), hemp based rolling papers, and a variety of vapourizers. We only add a small handling fee to these items, making our prices significantly more affordable for our members than would otherwise be possible.
How can cannabis be consumed?
The three most common ways to therapeutically use cannabis are through inhalation, ingestion, and topical applications. Inhalation is the fastest acting administration route for cannabis. The speed of effect of inhalation makes acute titration (fast-acting dose management) a simple process that is vital for certain conditions, especially those typified by the sudden onset of symptoms (epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, etc.). Unfortunately, this method of administration frequently leads to blood levels of the various active components that are far higher than the ideal therapeutic range, followed by a rapid decrease in their effect. Inhalation also increases the likelihood of undesirable irritation of the throat and lungs. Smoking cannabis releases the active components through combustion into a gaseous form that unfortunately includes superheated gases, carbon monoxide and particulates. Thus, though effective, smoking is not the healthiest method of consumption. Many of the negatives associated with smoking can be mitigated through use of a vapourizer. Vapourizing cannabis causes the active ingredients to evaporate without burning the plant material. Requiring lower temperatures to achieve this effect, this method involves inhaling significantly less undesirable materials than smoking. With the fine temperature control offered by some vapourizers (including those provided in our Vapour Lounge), specific cannabinoids can be targeted to achieve a personally tailored therapeutic effect.
Ingestion allows for a longer period of effect, as well as a slower eventual increase and decrease in blood concentrations. This means that the effects of oral administrations take longer to take effect and are longer lasting, allowing for simpler and more effective maintenance of ideal blood levels of the various therapeutic compounds contained within cannabis. Additionally, a properly organized regimen of oral administration is significantly less expensive than a regimen focused on inhalation. Please see our “Edibles” pamphlet. Topical cannabis products may relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and relax muscles. The club produces and distributes cannabis-infused salves and massage oils. We have also combined our oils with those derived from natural sources traditionally used in the treatment of illness. Please see our “Topicals” pamphlet.
Who do we help?
Membership at the VCBC requires a physician’s diagnosis of a permanent physical disease or disability. All psychiatric disorders, as well as some physical conditions, require a doctor’s explicit recommendation for the use of cannabis. When damage or dysfunction of the nervous system results in chronic (long term) neuropathic pain, patients have few treatment options. Prescription medications are not universally effective and frequently have undesirable side effects. For individuals that suffer from this type of pain, using cannabis therapeutically has been found to reduce symptoms, improve mood, and help with sleep.
Cannabis has many different effects that may be useful in the treatment of a wide range of conditions and their symptoms. These include nausea, emesis (vomiting), wasting syndrome, movement disorders, migraines, fibromyalgia and many others. A growing body of evidence shows cannabis to have antispasmodic and muscle relaxant properties that may relieve some of the symptoms of both multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. Cannabis can exert analgesic (pain-reducing) effects in two distinct ways that synergize with each other to greater effect than either could on its own. When administered internally (via ingestion or inhalation), cannabis exerts its effects via the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to reduce the intensity of the incoming pain signals. When administered topically, cannabis acts to reduce pain by directly reducing the peripheral nervous system’s sensitivity to pain, thus reducing the frequency and intensity of pain signals sent to the central nervous system. This means that the combined use of topical products with some form of internal administration can provide significantly greater pain relief than either could alone. We also work with our sister organization, the International Hempology 101 Society, to educate the public about the beneficial uses of cannabis as medicine, fuel, paper, building material, food, textiles, and in numerous industrial applications. Hempology has student clubs across Canada and publishes a quarterly newspaper, Cannabis Digest, with a daily online blog available at www.cannabisdigest.ca.
The society has also published an informative and clearly written textbook, “Hempology 101: The History and Uses of Cannabis Sativa”, written by VCBC founder Ted Smith.