In Canada, the rules on who can grow medical cannabis are under attack as the federal government is expected to announce changes in the program. The Canadian Press has learned that the federal government is poised to tighten the rules concerning private growers of medical marijuana. Patients are now waiting for an announcement of the new rules that would eliminate individual and private growers of medical marijuana in favor of only licensed growers that would be allowed to cultivate and distribute cannabis.
People in the medical marijuana community in Canada say that the changes are unwelcome and will do more harm than good. Adam Greenblatt, the spokesman for the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries says that the new rules will be problematic, since many patients have been trying for years to find strains that work for them, and also because many patients have invested a lot of money in growing equipment.
The change will privatize the industry and eliminate individual and private growers from the current system. Steve Outhouse, a spokesman for the Canadian Health Ministry, said that the new rules will come out in the near future and will balance patient access to medical marijuana while strengthening public safety. There has been a push from mayors across the country to take away small home growing operations because they say the growers don’t follow electrical, health and safety bylaws. A Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference was held earlier this month and the delegates approved a resolution to ask Health Canada to issue growing licenses only to growers who have permission from their respective municipality. Mayors of some towns in British Columbia got together and wrote a letter to the Health Minister this month complaining that too many licensees were floating around, and that they had cases that showed there is significant misuse of licenses, including producing product that exceeds an individual’s personal requirement.
Police, firefighters, and lawmakers, mostly from the BC area have also been pushing the government to tighten up the rules on who can grow marijuana. Police say that the problem is worsening and they can show significant issues with growers cultivating above their limits. Law enforcement also complain that even growers who stick to their limit still attract criminals to their grow sites, creating a neighborhood safety risk. A Canadian patient who qualifies due to a medical condition can currently grow their own marijuana, designate a grower for themselves, or buy it from the one company in the country that has a contract with Health Canada to grow medical marijuana on a large scale. Prairie Plant Systems, Inc is a Saskatchewan company that grows the marijuana you can get through Health Canada. Patients complain that the company only produces one strain, and that it is more expensive than growing your own. About 10,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana, and there are about 3400 license to grow cannabis. Two-thirds of both are in Ontario and British Columbia.