The Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS) closed its doors for the last time after 20 years of providing cannabis to the sick and ailing.

The organization closed its doors with no particular fanfare, noting the threat of serious fines or seizure of property designed to force organizations like theirs to shut down.

Serving more than 3,000 members, the VICS forced even police and politicians to acknowledge it was above all doing good for sick people.

In a 2008 interview, activist and former BC Marijuana Party candidate Richard Payne said, “We’re not a couple of drug dealers running around and dealing drugs. The people we’re getting aren’t gangster drug dealers. We’re going to show [the community] that we can be responsible.”


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The challenges ahead of the VICS would have been unimaginable 11 years ago.

The compassion society would love to reopen under legal terms, but Health Canada’s strict regulations about how it could display its products, and how its representatives could speak about them, make it hard to imagine the VICS as part of the legal cannabis stream.

“They’re glorified jewelry stores, very glitzy, very hip. It’s a retail market—it’s not a community health service,” said employee Robin Krause.

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