Health Canada has recently announced a proposed amendment that will require licensed producers (LPs) under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) to submit information about the doctors who are prescribing cannabis to provincial medical licensing authorities. In my opinion, this is another backhanded attempt to further de-legitimize the traction cannabis has been gaining in Canada and to appease the powerful institutions that surround federally authorized access.
Federal regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S. cannot police this industry since marijuana edibles remain illegal. This lack of oversight presents a serious public safety concern. The question that we as consumers should be asking is: are these new products safe to eat?
Sensible BC has become Canada's largest cannabis reform organization. Our focus for 2014 will be building our network and organization, keeping our issue in the media, fighting several legal challenges, and working towards the municipal elections coming this November.
Some major drawbacks with this new program (although there are many) include the reliance on mail/courier delivery as opposed to storefront sales, issues with affordability, the exclusion of sold extracts (such as hashish, oils, tinctures and edibles), and the loss of personal production rights more generally.
It's another historical first for Canada's modern medical marijuana market, as the first batch of substandard bud has been recalled. Patients who have been using Greenleaf's product should be worried. Without more information, the reason for the recall could be anything from a minor risk to a serious one.
If Health Canada spent as much time and money on researching medical marijuana and creating a properly run system as they have on court battles against patients, then we'd all be a lot better off. But unless you've just taken a big bong-hit, I wouldn't hold your breath.
The seized marijuana all came from designated growers who were licensed to grow for up to two patients each under the old system. These are the same home gardens which Health Canada ordered to be shut down, claiming that they are all mold-ridden, unsafe and unhealthy. Yet at the same time, it's allowed for these growers to sell their product to the newly licensed producers, who can then flip it to patients at a profit? How does any of this make sense?
Some say that the proliferation of home cultivation licenses has also helped to drop prices, but I don't think this has had a major impact. The amount of cannabis being produced by all licensed patients is not that significant when compared to the total level of underground production in Canada. It's shrinking U.S. demand that is driving prices down here.
I want to point out that not a single one of the new licensed producers has ever come out publicly in support of patients' rights to grow their own. And certainly none of these multi-million dollar operations has donated so much as one cent towards this ongoing legal challenge. Why would they? They stand to reap greater profits if patients are forbidden to compete by growing cheaply for themselves.
Kerrisdale residents Ray and Nichola Hall know too well the tragic outcomes of easily accessible illicit drugs. Both their sons, now in their mid 30s, were addicted to heroin and other drugs. They were raised in one of Vancouver's most-exclusive neighbourhoods, proving that the drug trade and addiction have no boundaries.
Imagine the federal government decided one day that a doctor-prescribed medication you're using is now illegal. Imagine the government then sent you a notice demanding that you write a letter to them, declaring you have destroyed all your illegal medication. And if you don't, the government says they will pass your confidential medical information -- and that of everyone else using this drug who doesn't write a letter -- to the police. Improbable as it seems, this is exactly what's happening to more than 37,000 Canadians right now. And apparently the Harper government considers this acceptable, because the medication in question is marijuana.
In a notice posted on their website this week, Health Canada shows why they cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of Canadians who need cannabis-based medicines.
With dozens of different companies providing medical cannabis, each with different labels and packaging, it will be impossible for an officer to tell if the cannabis in question is really from a licensed producer. I predict widespread proliferation of fake prescription bottles with fake labels and fake contact information. I predict that police will quickly become frustrated in trying to figure out who is valid and who is not.
The Tories can't even mention Justin Trudeau and his plan to legalize pot without resorting to a plea to 'think of the children!' They'll tell you pot can fry a developing brain, spoil an academic career or even turn your son or daughter into an addict. But prohibition isn't keeping pot away from teens. It is ruining young lives across the continent. As it so often with misguided legislation, it's the disadvantaged who suffer most.
Right now the RCMP lay about 60,000 charges annually for marijuana possession across Canada, while they let about four times as many people found with pot off with a warning. When the police talk about tickets for possession, they're not talking about reducing the number of charges, they're talking about finding a more efficient way to punish the hundreds of thousands of people they're currently letting go.
I'm not at all suggesting that the transition required for legalizing marijuana will be an easy road after all too many cheesy twists can cause high cholesterol. I would however like to say that my favorite quote from Mr.Trudeau on this topic is this: "I do not see this as a slippery slope... I see this as an issue of Legislators slowly catching up to where public opinion and public behavior actually is."