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Letter #2 from Phil to the Cannabis Buyers’ Club

By Hempology | December 26, 2002


By Phillipe Lucas – Founder, The Vancouver Island Compassion Society

December 20th, 2002


CBC. Of C.,


This is the last such missive that you will receive from the VICS regarding the relationship between the VICS and the CBC of C.
As suggested in your last letter, we believe it is best that the two clubs “agree to disagree” over our
differences; but I do wish to address the latest accusation made against us.

Firstly, it is impossible to ignore your organization (as you repeatedly accuse us of doing); we share
too many mutual members, and frankly, Ted gets more local publicty than all of the VICS staff combined.
As you have stated many times, you are the bigger club, and the VICS feels no need or obligation to
promote your organization, mandate or agenda, nor have we ever expected the CBC to do our P.R.. We have
helped each other when expedient for both organizations: you have shown up at our rallies, and we have
shown up at yours. After your last bust, we called Ted and offered the club free cannabis while you
re-stocked; Ted informed us that he had secured a back-up supple. Already, this is above and beyond
anything ever offered to the VICS by your own organization. The VICS has developed close relationships
within the medical marijuana movement; we chose to work with co-operative, like-minded organizations (we
are currently involved in a research survey protocol with the BCCCS, AVI and the University of San
Francisco, California for example). We have even been able to help Jed in his attempt to improve the
operation of the Coombs Buyers’ club. We find the CBC of C very difficult to work with, and are often
unsure of your motivation (how exactly is getting busted giving away cookies to passers-by outside
the library helping the public perception of medical cannabis?). Frankly, other than the occasional
benefit or rally, we would rather find our partnerships elsewhere. This is our right, and should be
of no more concern to you than your own self-interested behaviour.

Secondly, the VICS doesn’t consider the CBC of C to be competition. Sadly, there are more than enough
sick people in Victoria to support a half-dozen medicinal marijuana organizations. The “McDonalds
Vs. Burger King” quote was taken out of context, as I clearly stated that this was a simple issue of
choice for the consumer, not of direct competition. Our mandate is currently focused on adding to the
body of clinical cannabis research, as well as influencing national policy. We have been able to
accomplish the latter by getting an audience with the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (and
being quoted extensively in their impressive report), and advising the Medical Marijuana Advisory
Committee (I will be presenting in front of the committee with Hilary Black in Ottawa in May). We
have shared all of our extensive knowledge and experience with the public and with other clubs
through publication such as Cannabis Health, Cannabis Culture (I have a research article in the upcoming
issue), and through presentations (on invitation, I attended and presented at this year’s Seattle
Hempfest, and will be a scholarship speaker at next September’s American Institute of Pain
Conference in Denver, Colorado). We are currently involved in research with both McGill University
and the University of California, San Francisco (to be published in the Journal of Cannabis Health).
By this time next year, we hope to be conducting more clinical cannabis research than any other
organization in North America (including NIDA and Health Canada). As you can deduct, we are far too
busy forging ahead with our own mandate to worry about petty concerns such as possible competition with
other clubs.

Thirdly, the VICS and myself recognize the CBC as a legitimate club, simply not a “compassion society”.
As you know, that requires incorporation as a registered non-profit, and although you claim to be under
the “umbrella” of Hemp 101, this is simply not the same thing, legally or otherwise. There are clear
requirements that non-profits must meet, such as financial transparency, the legal registration of a
Board of Directors, and accountability to membership through Annual General Meetings. We consider
these things to be incredibly important if we are to stand up to public and legal scrutiny. Furthermore,
we feel that simply requiring a diagnosis of condition leaves too m uch room for abuses in an already
contentious treatment. We have worked hard to get the government to recognize cannabis as being a medicine,
the next step is to educate the doctors in its many uses. The VICS believes that all with a legitimate
need for medicinal cannabis should have access to it, but the current legal climate combined with the
fact that none of us are medical practitioners makes the doctor’s recommendation neccessary for our own
legal protection. The VICS has received recommendations from almost 90 doctors in the CRD; many now
stock our forms at their offices. Our program is clearly working. The fact is, we have never failed to
help a single critical or terminal patient; but we do so through education and cooperation with the
medicinal community – sadly, we feel that they are the key to mass acceptance of cannabis as a
legitimate medicine. Feel free to disagree, and to follow your own course in this, but our strict
registration policy clearly made a difference in our recent successful court decision.

Fourthly, Health Canada has no intention of ever licensing any buyer’s club or compassion society,
including the VICS and the CBC of C. How do I know this? I talk with them ALL THE TIME. You have
repeatedly stated that you are in discussion with the government regarding licensing or legitimizing
you organization; this may help buy you time with the city, but it doesn’t in any way hold water with
us. This claim is simply not based on fact.

You have stated that the courts and city have “acknowledged your mandate as legitimate”. This is also
an overstatement; the courts have banned Ted from even being inside the club that he founded (the fact
that Ted’s challenge is to follow the Caine, Malmo-Levine, and Clay trial gives you no claim to
legitimacy – especially in the case of medicinal cannabis – Ted’s case simply raises similar
constitutional questions regarding the legitimacy of the laws governing personal possession). The
city has never acknowledged the CBC’s mandate; they have wisely voted for motions in support of
medicinal cannabis and in recognition of a rather exaggerated “International Medical Marijuana Day”.
In view of continued busts and harassment at the CBC, I’m amazed that you would even bother to make
such claims, or frankly waste so much time petitioning the city government for what is clearly a national
law and policy.

The VICS at no time claimed to be the only legitimate source for cannabis in Victoria (must I remind
you that we are no more legal or legitimate than the CBC?), we merely stated that we were the only
legitimate compassion society in town (you are, after all, a Buyer’s Club, and not a “compassion
society”, or am I missing something?) and the safest source for cannabis on the island. Legitimacy
or recognition are simply not priorities for the VICS; safe and strong medicine in an atmosphere
conducive to healing are. That is why 70% of our cannabis is organic. The unequalled quality of our
product and service is also how we have survived and flourished for so long; otherwise your cheaper
prices and more lenient registration policies would surely have bankrupted us long ago.

You state that we have created “confusion and resentment” in the community by discrediting the CBC. Let
me suggest that the CBC should look to its own membership if it chooses to lay blame for its current
situation. After all, it is the behaviour of CBC members that have led to your recent legal problems. On
the other hand, the VICS has shown itself more than willing to dismiss infighting and offer help by
offering cannabis and by turning up at rallies after your busts. We hear the complaints of shared members
regarding the quality of service and product at the CBC on a nearly daily basis (as I’m sure you do
about us – probably by some of the very same members!); it is not our habit to repeat these complaints
or even to take them seriously – and we certainly don’t encourage them. However, we cannot and will not
control the opinion or actions of our members, the press or the public; all that we do is the best we
can – luckily nearly everyone in town seems to appreciate us and the hard work that we do. There will
always be malcontents; we accept that. The perception of the press or public of the CBC is in no way
our responsibility or concern: that’s your backyard, you deal with it. Once again, championing our
mandate is not the same as discrediting your own; it is fear and insecurity that makes you see it as
such. Even though we have clearly expressed differences, the VICS has always been willing to send
applicants that we cannot assist to the CBC, and we hope to continue doing so in the future. We would
suggest that it is Ted’s own actions that create confusion in the public perception of medicinal cannabis
distribution. Every time Ted gets charged with passing a joint to a non-medical user, all of our
credibility and hard work is negatively affected. The trust of the public is hard to gain, and shouldn’t
be so casually abused.

As I have stated, this is the last such message that the VICS will receive or respond to: it is not our
mandate to discredit the CBC, not have we ever gone out of our way to do so. It is clear by your own
statements that you are more interested in laying blame than solving any of the CBC’s issues with
our organization (“… we are addressing the problems you are creating…”); this is counter-productive,
time-consuming, and quite frankly of considerable annoyance to us. Please forward any further accusatory
communication to our lawyer John Conroy [2459 Pauline Street, Abbotsford BC, V2S 3S1] (who will also
receive a copy of this leter and past correspondence); we clearly have better things to do with our time.

Phillipe Lucas and the VICS staff.

P.S. However, should you ever need any assistance, please feel free to call or come by any time – you
are more than welcome.

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