There has been a buzz for the past while and it seems that it is becoming louder and louder lately.
This morning the news said that impaired driving by drug charges are up 150 per cent in Toronto compared to this time last year. This reminded me of all the other news stories for the past while on marijuana.
I get involved in discussions about where Canada stands on marijuana and I also have clients ask me about it with respect to tenants. Quite often I am as unsure as they are. So, I have been reading to find out exactly where we stand.
My first discovery as to exactly where Canada stands, was in bold and in capitals on an information sheet, “Dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada. The Government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a healthcare practitioner.” That answers one of my questions, but also leaves me confused as Trudeau’s platform was the legalization of marijuana. So I went back to the basics.
In June 2013, the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (“MMPR”) came into effect replacing the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. It was said that MMARs were open to abuse. This was the first big step in substantial change in direction for the supply and acquisition of medical marihuana in Canada.
The MMPR set out an application process allowing applications to produce marijuana for medical purposes that undergo a strict and rigorous review. It includes that licences are only issued after health and safety guidelines are met, such as ensuring security clearance for all employees.
According to Health Canada (updated May 6, 2016) there are 18 licensed producers under the MMPR currently that can produce and/or dispense marijuana.
With respect to the actual prescription, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have set out their own policy with respect to prescriptions. Physicians are mandated to consider all aspects of the need for medical marijuana and prescribe it as a last resort. The assistance of the prescription must out-weigh risks associated with the use such as addiction, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and the onset of exacerbation of mental illness, including schizophrenia. The medical document would look like a normal prescription. It would include the patient’s name, the physician’s name the CPSO number, the daily quantity, the period of use, and the THC dose.
So these are the ground rules, but things changed.
In November 2015, there was controversy as new Ontario regulations allowed people on medical marijuana to smoke in public places where smoking was otherwise ban. This included movie theatres, restaurants, offices, stadiums, and playgrounds full of children. The regulation did allow proprietors the right to overrule any medical marijuana smoking.
Things heated up again in February of this year where a Federal Court (Allard et a. v. Canada) ruled that MMPR infringed on the charter rights and declared that the MMRP have no force and effect. The MMPR does not allow for medical marijuana to be grown at home, only by licensed facilities.
This decision was suspended by the judge for six months to give the federal government time to come up with new rules. An earlier injunction that was ordered stay in effect, allowing Canadians with prior authorization to continue to grow at home.
Of course, we still need to talk about Trudeau’s policy promises about legalizing and strictly regulating both the supply and sale of marijuana (not to be confused with decriminalizing – which Trudeau does not support). In April it was reported that in the spring of 2017 the government will be introducing legalization legislation. What will happen when the six months are up? Perhaps there will be a new standard for “beautiful garden neighbour”!
So, we have now made the leap from medicinal marijuana to recreational marijuana. Do you think that was planned?!? One wonders. Even the co-counsel for Allard was quoted as saying “The lessons I think are pretty obvious. If you can grow cannabis for yourself for medical purposes safely and with no risk for the public, surely, you can grow cannabis for yourself for non-medical purposes safely with no risk to the public.”
My conclusion on the matter – we have a system that is has not quite figured out where it stands with Canadians. The most recent article I encountered was May 2, 2016 from CBC News, where Toronto is making a stand on the number of growing medical marijuana dispensaries there are and are sending warnings of fines. Perhaps there will have to be chaos before peace.