Article by Trina Fraser, Lift
Canadians are anxiously awaiting the introduction of legislative amendments to legalize the recreational use of cannabis (promised to come this spring). In its Final Report released in November, 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation made a number of recommendations on what it believed legalization should look like. It remains to be seen which of these recommendations will make their way into the Federal Government’s legalization strategy.
One of the Task Force’s recommendations was the inclusion of restricted personal cultivation rights (for non-medical purposes). Many view this as a ‘no-brainer’ add-on to commercial production. As noted in the Task Force’s Final Report, restricted personal cultivation is permitted in the U.S. states of Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia. In these states, home cultivation is automatically allowed within the scope permitted by state law. This is not exactly what the Task Force suggested… it recommended restricted personal cultivation with “oversight and approval by local authorities.”
The Task Force seems to have contemplated a system where residents would have to apply for, and obtain, some type of municipal licence or permission to cultivate cannabis at home for recreational purposes. I just don’t think this is in the works—at least, not initially. Perhaps when our government reaches a comfort level with cannabis that would permit home grows ‘as of right’, it will make sense to expand legalization to include this. But so long as the government remains fixated on overseeing and regulating every cannabis plant in Canada, implementation of a licensing regime for recreational personal cultivation would be a logistical nightmare and, ultimately, a failure.
You think the ACMPR licensing process is bad? Can you imagine the overwhelming administrative burden of potentially millions of Canadians seeking permission to grow cannabis at home? Municipalities would have to implement new departments dedicated to processing personal cultivation licence applications. Inspectors would have to be hired. Municipal legal departments would be deluged with appeals from licence denials and revocations. Are you seeing dollars signs yet? Can you imagine how happy residents will be that their property taxes will increase in order to pay for this bureaucracy?
We already know that the police don’t want it. In a recent discussion paper addressing the Task Force Recommendations, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police says “Hold off on ‘Home Grows’” and admits “The CACP has long been against in-home production”. Police concerns with personal cultivation include diversion to the black market, lack of quality control, increased access to youth, and electrical/fire hazards. Of course, they are also concerned with the policing resources that would have to be allocated to inevitable issues such as commercial grows posing as home grows.