04/14/2014 05:12 EDT | Updated 04/14/2014 05:59 EDT

RCMP: Medical Marijuana Producers' Shipments Were Not Legal

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The Mounties say they confiscated two shipments of medical marijuana bound for licensed producers in Ontario at a British Columbia airport because they contained prohibited items.

The Kelowna, B.C. detachment of the RCMP said Monday that the marijuana contained in the shipments “didn’t match what was authorized to be transferred.”

The seizures happened on the final day that Health Canada allowed companies to purchase plants and seeds from medical marijuana patients who were authorized as growers under Health Canada’s previous rules.

Tweed Inc. and Mettrum, the companies importing the weed, have insisted that they received Health Canada approval for the shipments. They have now both decided to abandon the shipments.

The fledgling government-approved medical marijuana producers had until March 31 to buy “starting materials” from small-time growers authorized under Health Canada’s Medical Marihuana Access Regulations, which ended as of April 1.

“If activities are undertaken outside of the parameters of these licenses, the RCMP's role is to enforce the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is what was done,” the RCMP said in a short statement on its website.

In the weeks before its implementation, licensed producers became concerned that they didn’t have enough supply to meet demand under the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, which disallows patients from growing their own product and forces them to buy online from one of the 12 currently-licensed commercial growers.

Tweed Inc. said that it approached Health Canada with those concerns and received permission to also import “in-production” materials, or mature or cut plants. However, it says, it did not request nor receive permission to buy dried marijuana ready for customers to purchase.

The RCMP said the shipments seized violated sections of the new MMPR that allow growers from the old system to sell or provide marijuana plants or seeds to licensed producers.

Those sections allow the holder of a personal-use production licence or a designated grower licensed to grow “to sell or provide marihuana plants or seeds to a licensed producer if the holder does so in accordance with a notice of authorization.”

Given that none of the parties involved are disputing that the companies received a notice of authorization for the shipments, the violation appears to surround the provision of “marijuana plants or seeds.” The shipments may have contained plants in a state the RCMP felt was unacceptable or even dried marijuana, or something else entirely. None of the parties are commenting on the exact violation.

Health Canada did not answer questions on the seizure directly, but said Monday that obtaining starting material from an MMAR grower is no longer legal after April 1. That means, if approved, the hundreds of licensed producers waiting in the wings will have to import from a legal foreign source or buy starting material from a competing licensed producer.

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