Nelson City Councillor Robin Cherbo.

COLUMN: New medical marijuana law ‘stinks’

Rather than continue with patients providing their own marijuana, the government has passed the production onto new corporations.

The use of medical marijuana has come to council’s attention and may have to be dealt with by our local law enforcement or by drafting new bylaws. At our last council committee of the whole meeting, Chief Wayne Holland gave a presentation on the new medical marijuana regulations which took effect on April 1.

The new federal regulations could make current legal marijuana patients criminals. A quote in the local media states, “There are currently only 10 companies in Canada licensed to produce medical marijuana, and NPD chief Wayne Holland says his observation of the lead-up to the introduction of the new regulations indicates that when the law changes there won’t be enough supply to meet the country-wide demand for medical marijuana.”

It is further explained by a quote from the Health Canada website, “If you are a Canadian citizen, you can legally obtain your medication by registering your medical document with a licensed producer that is authorized by Health Canada’s Medical for Marijuana Purposes Regulations (MMPR).”

There are many problems with the new regulations, as there are currently approximately 14,000 medical marijuana “patients” in BC alone and there is no way that an “authorized licensed producer” could even begin to meet the demand after April 1.

Rather than continue with a program of patients providing their own marijuana under a legal licence, the federal government has decide to pass the production and distribution of marijuana onto new corporations.

This new law Medical for Marijuana Purposes Regulations (MMPR), stinks, if you will pardon the pun.

It shows the federal government has decided to make it more difficult for medical marijuana patients while passing the profits onto the new corporations. Not to mention the proposed distribution from marijuana corporate growers by courier or mail to medical patients in the Canada Post community mail boxes.

After April 1, the new Health Canada MMPR could make a number of former legal medical marijuana growers and patients criminals if they have to continue to supply their own needs by ignoring the new regulations.

News quotes state, “Vancouver City Police say they won’t bust down the doors of the city’s many illegal medical marijuana dispensaries April 1 when a new federal law will delegate weed production and distribution to a handful of licensed premises.”

“It really is about access to medication, and the rules under the new federal law would essentially block people from getting their medication.”

“We just don’t see these dispensaries as something we need to shut down, as long as they are only providing marijuana to people who medically need it.”

Following with a quote in local media, “With that in mind, chief Holland says police across the country understand that people need access to their medicine so they won’t be heading out bright and early on April 1 to shut down medical marijuana production facilities licensed under the old regulations.”

The approach the federal government is taking appears to be something from the 1936 movie Reefer Madness. Rather than coming up with better solutions, the new MMPR will drive the whole process underground and/or back into the courts.

In the US, Colorado and Washington State have legalized small quantities of marijuana and passed or are proposing taxing legal marijuana sales to adults where they are expected to reap millions of dollars.

It seem that with the cost of health care and infrastructure in Canada, taxing current legal marijuana production  would have been a more positive approach for the Canadian government rather than making the current licensed production and distribution illegal.

Municipalities and councils across BC may have to deal with the change to current legal production and use of medical marijuana through increases in budgets for bylaws and law enforcement.

As it seems now, as of April 1, only the new legal marijuana corporations and lawyers are going to be the winners in this regressive change in medical marijuana regulations.

 

— Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city councillor. He shares this space with his colleagues around the table.

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