The details of the new medical marijuana regulations are out – and soon, so should the supplies from home growers. Authorities say that the stricter rules are put in place to protect public safety, but the growing public confusion and differing opinions seem to be working against the Canadian government’s plans.
Rolled out on June 10th and officially published on June 12th in the Canada Gazette, the new regulations no longer allow medical marijuana users to grow their own plants at home. The federal government will also cease the production and distribution of the substance, leaving only licensed growers as the only source for medical marijuana users. Jeffrey Reisman, a well-known criminal lawyer in Toronto explains that one of the main factors that prompted the change in laws was that home growing was creating a lot of neighborhood crime. “In some cases we have organized crime operating grow ups, or targeting legal grow ups to steal product, which compromises the safety in a community”, says Reisman.
Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement that the stricter regulations will be imposed to “protect public safety” and “strengthen the safety of Canadian communities.” Health Canada backed Aglukkaq’s argument, claiming that letting individuals grow their own marijuana since the Marijuana Medical Access Program began about 12 years ago has affected public health, safety and security. Within this period, authorized medical marijuana users ballooned to 30,000 from the original 500, according to the department.
Apart from producing more marijuana than they can use, some growers have allegedly abused the program by selling illegally or causing fire and flood hazards due to unregulated operations. More serious threats include theft and other criminal acts that have been spurred by uncontrolled production and distribution of the product.
Meanwhile, the issue has also reignited a wider clamor to loosen Canada’s marijuana laws in general, with nearly 70 percent of polled individuals supporting marijuana legalization – or at least decriminalization of possession of small amounts. According to Forum Research, which gathered the opinion of more than 1,000 Canadians age 18 and older, only 15 percent think that marijuana regulations should remain unchanged, while 13 percent are in favor of even stricter penalties.
Another sector that has been vocal even before the medical marijuana program was launched is the medical community, which has reiterated time and again that there is not enough evidence of marijuana’s medical benefits.
Some politicians were also not spared in the crossfire. Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, in particular, earned mixed reactions when he professed not only his position in favor of legalizing marijuana – but also the fact that he had smoked marijuana at a dinner party. Roughly five years ago, Trudeau strongly opposed even just marijuana decriminalization.
Such “transformations” and developments are prompting even more people – politicians and average citizens alike – to speak out about the issue. While many eagerly await which side will prevail in the end, some observers are content enough seeing that marijuana laws are getting deeper, much more serious attention than ever.
Jeffrey Reisman is a well-respected Toronto Criminal lawyer, who focuses on all areas of criminal defence including assault cases, fraud, arson, burglary, murder and more. He is also an experienced bail hearing lawyer in Toronto