On April Fool’s Day next year, Ottawa is officially quitting the pot business and simultaneously uprooting thousands of home-grow operations across the country.
After two years of consultation and review, the federal government announced an overhaul of the medical marijuana program on Monday.
The details will be published June 19, but Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is banning the indoor pot gardens that are the bane of police departments, fire marshals and municipalities.
A marijuana mail-order system for the ailing will be established.
“While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion in order to protect public safety,” Agluk-kaq said.
She maintained that the 12-year-old medical marijuana program had grown exponentially – from under 500 persons to more than 30,000.
The unintended consequences of having so many Canadians exempt from the criminal law and allowing thousands to grow marijuana in their homes have proven too difficult to manage, Aglukkaq said.
Under the new rules, municipal zoning laws must be respected, and marijuana may only be grown by strictly regulated licensed producers who will sell their product by mail.
Her sympathies clearly lay with civic authorities rather than the sick – Aglukkaq made the announcement from an Ottawa fire hall, not a health setting.
Advocates for the illegal compassion clubs (who lobbied Ottawa for legitimacy during the consultation process), as well as home-growers and patients (upset about predicted cost increases), promised litigation.
The new rules continue to prohibit the dispensaries and may prompt municipalities such as Vancouver, which tolerate the illicit operations, to change their laissez-faire policies and shutter them.
“They’ve ignored the currently existing network of dispensaries that provide more pot to more patients than the Health Canada system does,” complained Dana Larsen, of Sensible BC and who is behind an upcoming referendum on pot.
“My prescription for medical marijuana is to legalize it. It’s safer than Aspirin and should be treated in a similar manner.”
– Read the entire article The Vancouver Sun.