5% GST Sales Tax on Medicine

Starting January 28, 2016, we have to apply a 5% sales tax to your medicine.

We have been fighting for 15 years to see that medical cannabis for all Canadians is deemed a medical necessity and is exempt from tax. This case, has incurred costs of hundreds of thousands and the BCCCS has been saving for 18 years to fight this fight, or pay the GST liability.

This has been a long and incredibly expensive case, the legal avenues have now been exhausted and disappointingly, we did not win.

On Monday January the 27th, the Federal Court of Appeals dismissed our appeal. The original case was in June of 2014 and we argued, essentially, that medical cannabis is a medical necessity and should there for be exempt from sales tax. We did not win the initial case and the Federal Court of Appeals also ruled against us.

The Federal Court of Appeals ignored many of the key issues and simply ruled that the Parliament could not have possibly intended for an illegal drug to be tax exempt.

Please check Lift Cannabis for the breaking report of our story or The Globe and Mail for more coverage.

What an uphill battle it has been, but we are still full of comPASSION!! There is no waver in our intentions to continue standing for patient rights and safe, affordable medicine across Canada!

Next steps, we need to lobby for legislative change.

Stay posted for updates on a campaign.


Online Menu Update

Dear Members,

We apologize for the disappearance of our menu from our website. We recognize the severe inconvenience caused by this move, but it was done on the advice of our lawyer, John Conroy, in response to Health Canada‘s recent threatening letter.

We hope this move to address Health Canada‘s request, as well as the removal of edibles to comply with City regulations, are both temporary measures pending the outcome of next month’s election.

If you are not registered to vote yet, please visit Elections Canada.

In Love & Solidarity,



Access to Edibles

Dear Members,

We regret to inform you that effective immediately, we must cease distribution of some forms of edibles from our menu.

The City of Vancouver has stipulated in order to comply with their new medical marijuana-related business licensing policies and to keep our doors open, “all edibles, except for oils, tinctures and capsules, are no longer permitted to be sold”.

As such, we can still offer a variety of beautiful infusions, and our staff will provide all the support needed to empower your self-titration as you adjust your dosage and find effective relief while switching to a new product.

As always, we are honoured to provide any member who needs guidance or support regarding dosaging, titration, recipes, or any other questions you may have about your medicine.

We acknowledge this regulation does not comply with the recent Supreme Court ruling, declaring all medical cannabis products to be legal for patients to use; however we are compelled to comply with the city’s requirement. We are working with them to find a way to stay in our current location, keep our doors open and to continue to provide you with the wide variety of healthcare services we are currently offering.

Thank you all for your continued support during this time. We love you!

In Solidarity,
All BCCCS Staff and Board

The BCCCS Responds to Vancouver Dispensary Regulations

The British Columbia Compassion Club Society expressed appreciation for Vancouver City Council’s historic move yesterday, when it voted to regulate medical cannabis dispensaries. “We are proud of our city right now and at the same time we are deeply concerned about being forced to move which would likely close our doors and interrupt subsidized healthcare services for our 6000 patients,” said Jamie Shaw, the group’s spokesperson.

Vancouver is following US states like New Jersey and New Hampshire that adopted the compassion club model years ago, with the creation of a ‘compassion club’ designation in the new licensing system. Shaw said “It’s nice to see some regulation in place that encourages more dispensaries to follow the model of providing low cost healthcare services subsidized by the cannabis distribution; but we do still have some serious concerns.”

She said the BCCCS is looking at ways that it can continue to serve it’s members while being compliant with the new regulations, but added that the requirement to move may end up bringing about the end of the organization. “After 18 years of responsibly serving our community and making significant lease-hold improvements in our present location, forcing us to rip up our roots and abandon our community, while competing for a new location with other dispensaries and anyone who decides they now want to be in this field, will likely represent an insurmountable challenge.”

The BCCCS is required to move because we are within 300ft of a private school. The school has written letters of support, brings their students in for tours and in 14 years of being neighbours, we have built a mutually beneficial relationship. As councilor Reimer said in the hearings, we have significantly benefitted our neighbourhood.

“It was surprising to see that Councillor DeGonova stated she did not support these by-laws in part because the BCCCS would have to move, yet she did not floor an amendment that could have kept us in our home.”

The BCCCS said its still hopeful councilors like DeGenova are working towards a solution, and doesn’t believe it was Council’s intention to disrupt Vancouver’s longest running dispensaries.

The British Columbia Compassion Club Society has been a registered non-profit society since 1997, and promotes access to cannabis as part of a holistic approach to health.

Press contact: Jamie Shaw 778-317-3857

Supreme Court Validates Compassion Club Practices

The British Columbia Compassion Club (BCCCS) today announced their support of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the R v Smith case concerning edible cannabis medicine.

“This is yet one more case that shows why Compassion Clubs exist,” said Jamie Shaw, a spokesperson with the group. “Dispensaries have consistently had charges against them dropped; growers have consistently been granted discharges; and our reasons for civil disobedience have been constantly validated by the courts,” she said.

In the case of R v Smith the Supreme Court found that the ‘effects of prohibition contradict the objective of public health and safety’, and that ‘by forcing a person to choose between a legal but inadequate treatment and an illegal but more effective one, the law also infringes security of the person.

The ruling also states that liberty is limited ‘by foreclosing reasonable medical choices through the threat of criminal prosecution‘. Shaw believes that the same holds true for patients who are forced to choose between the legal, but inadequate Health Canada program, and the illegal effective dispensaries.

“These three findings perfectly encapsulate why we exist, an,” Shaw said, adding “We sincerely hope that these findings are applied to the issue of access as well, so that, patients are no longer forced to choose between the inadequate but legal Health Canada program or illegal dispensaries that provide education, support and other services.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’ve been doing it with both patients and public safety in mind. The courts recognized that back in 2001, and we’ve only gotten better at it since then,” Shaw said.

She expressed disappointment that the court didn’t accept Mr. Tousaw’s suggestion to simply remove cannabis from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

“It means we won’t be seeing any clarity any time soon.” Shaw said, “It may be some time before workable, constitutional regulations are developed by Health Canada.”

Shaw also points out that the ruling refers to patients with ‘medical authorization’ and that this isn’t the same language as the ‘medical document’ referred to in the MMPR, adding she would like to see some further clarity about what is considered ‘medical authorization’ in the eyes of the courts.

The BC Compassion Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1997. It is the longest-running dispensary in North America.

Media contact: Jamie Shaw jamie[at]thecompassionclub.org