By Amy Minsky
The Canadian federal government is expected to announce new rules for growing medical marijuana which would make it so only licensed growers would be permitted to cultivate and distribute it.
The move would eliminate individual and private growers from the current system, whereby eligible people apply to Health Canada which then issues the licence.
People in the dispensing community who have been hearing about the impending change say it's unwelcome, and will do more harm than good.
"By privatizing the industry, they'll effectively be removing the rights of medical cannabis patients to produce their own cannabis," said Adam Greenblatt, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. "That's problematic because you have patients who spend many years trying to find the variety that works for them, and also because some patients have invested a lot of money in growing supplies."
A spokesman for the health minister said they will begin consulting on new rules in the "near future." Steve Outhouse wouldn't give specifics about any changes, but said the rules "will balance patient access to medical marijuana while strengthening public safety."
Recently, mayors and councillors across the country have been complaining, saying the current system poses dangers when growers don't follow local electrical, health and safety bylaws.
At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference earlier this month, delegates approved a resolution to ask that Health Canada issue licences only to growers who have already received a licence from their respective municipality.
In March, the mayors of two towns in southern British Columbia wrote to Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, saying too many licences are floating around, making it impossible for municipalities to know who is licensed and whether those growers are operating safely. The mayors of Langley, B.C. and the Township of Langley, B.C. also wrote that they knew "based on actual cases, that there is significant misuse of many licences and the volume of product produced often exceeds an individual's personal requirement."
Late last month, RCMP drug investigators in B.C. arrested three men and seized a helicopter after raiding a Maple Ridge property growing almost seven times more pot than its two medical marijuana licences permitted. The Federal Drug Enforcement Branch found 1,490 plants instead of the 220 permitted by two licences provided by Health Canada to grow medical pot.
- Article from The Vancouver Sun.