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Federal Government Moves to Tighten Medical Marijuana Laws

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OTTAWA – The federal government will be changing laws for medical marijuana growers, but will not address an aspect of those laws that many critics and several courts say is unconstitutional.

Government began the updating process Friday, launching public consultations on a list of proposed changes it prepared, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said.

The changes, which would eliminate individual and private growers from the current system, were prompted by concerns the minister has fielded from cops, firemen, mayors and doctors across the country.

They say the current system becomes dangerous when growers don't follow local electrical, health and safety bylaws, and that with so many licences floating around it's virtually impossible for municipalities to know who is licensed and whether those growers are honouring the conditions of those licences.

Aglukkaq said government is hoping the changes will "reduce the risk of abuse . . . while significantly improving the way program participants access marijuana for medical purposes."

But in April, the Superior Court in Ontario – ruling in the case of Matt Mernagh – found the current system to be unconstitutional and ordered the government to change the medical marijuana program, a decision the government has since appealed.

Matt Mernagh started growing pot when he found it provided some relief from chronic pain and other symptoms of his scoliosis, fibromyalgia and epilepsy. But he couldn't get a licence to grow, because his doctor wouldn't sign the document Health Canada currently requires to issue one.

Police found Mernagh's plants in 2008 when they were in his apartment building on an unrelated call. He was charged with production and possession, and subsequently tried.

"The Superior Court said the laws he was charged under, growing, are unconstitutional, because there isn't a functional med-pot system," his lawyer Paul Lewin told Postmedia News. "You need a medical marijuana regime that works . . . No one should have to choose between their health and the law."

The government was given 90 days to come up with a constitutional regime, one in which medical doctors don't act as "gatekeepers" to the drug. Government has asked to have that ruling put on hold until the appeal is heard.

Mernagh's case is not exceptional, Lewin said. Courts have ruled that the current system is unconstitutional at least five times since 2001, he said.

"That's a lot of times to be told your system isn't fair," he said. "It just seems there's this historical hostility toward cannabis in which people view it as the same as all the other street drugs."

The Health Canada propositions posted Friday don't address the court rulings.

The changes, available on the government website, remove the agency from the licensing and distributing process, and instead requires a patient to present a document from a doctor to a licensed commercial producer.

Marijuana produced by licensed commercial producers would be subject to quality standards, unlike the product that is produced by individuals under the current program.

But people in the dispensing community are worried that removing the rights of medical cannabis patients to produce their own cannabis will do more harm than good.

"We believe the new regulations could also allow the patients to produce their own," said Rade Kovacevic, director for the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. "There's room for the other suggestions they say will benefit patients . . . The two aren't mutually exclusive."

The public consultation period ends July 31.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: montrealgazette.com
Author: Amy Minsky
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Postmedia Network Inc.
Website: Federal government moves to tighten medical marijuana laws


New Member
TOTAL BS...WELL they best put in the new rules that the GOV. of Canada will pay for my MEDS if I have to BUY from someone and no longer can grow my own.... I`ll will be having my day in COURT.!


New Member
YEah We are doing all of that and other stuff allready... Just the rest of people have to get off their ARSE and do the same..as they say talk in cheap unless ya do it in writting!
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