Article by Peter Thurley, National Post
The federal Liberals recently unveiled new medical marijuana regulations, in order to meet guidelines set out by a federal court. With the legalization of recreational cannabis, and likely new ways of handling medical cannabis, forthcoming in the new year, these regulatory changes offer clues as to the direction the federal government is heading. Worryingly, all signs suggest that the new rules will not benefit medical cannabis patients.
While the new system, known as the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation (ACMPR), allows patients to grow their own plants, it makes it clear that all dispensaries and compassion clubs are illegal, despite the fact that they have a long history of helping patients access their medicine. The new rules also impose a complicated formula for determining the number of plants patients are allowed to grow on their own, and perpetuates the special status afforded to Canada’s 34 licensed producers (LPs), by ensuring that they are the only legal source of young plants and seeds.
The federal government has a history of making the system as difficult and as slow as possible for cannabis patients; I am thus not very optimistic that the new application, which seems to require limited registration with police, which will need to be reviewed in full by all the medical professionals involved with a particular patient, will allow people the freedom to grow their own medicine, as the court has said is their right.
Adding to the notorious red tape, the new system is vulnerable to abuse by LPs. Indeed, it didn’t take long for Canada’s largest LP, Canopy Growth Corp., to respond to the new framework. In a press release sent out hours after the new federal regulations were announced, Canopy charged that they were “a setback for the advancement of sound cannabis policy and Canada’s global leadership in cannabis regulation.”
No doubt reluctant to release any part of the growing process to the public, Canopy Growth — which boasts more than half of the country’s legally registered cannabis patients — insisted that its customers will not be allowed to grow its plants in their homes. Its new program, Home grow without your home, promises to provide seeds, training and rental equipment, but, by taking advantage of the clause that allows patients to designate an alternate grower, will force its clients to grow plants in one of its facilities. In other words, the largest licensed producer in Canada is already using its power to hold patients hostage, refusing to allow them to grow their own plants, in their own homes.