Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jun 2013
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ian Austin, with files from Canadian Press Page: 4


Legal "homegrown" will soon be a thing of the past for Canada's 30,000
medical-marijuana users.

Citing public safety concerns, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq
rolled out new medical-pot rules Monday in Ottawa, citing overwhelming
growth in medical-marijuana users as a reason to ban patients from
growing their own.

"This rapid increase has had unintended consequences for public
health, safety and security as a result of allowing individuals to
produce marijuana in their homes," said the Health Ministry, which
noted 500 medical-marijuana users in 2001 has mushroomed to 30,000

"Under the new regulations, production will no longer take place in
homes and municipal zoning laws will need to be respected, which will
further enhance public safety."

Dana Larsen of Sensible B.C., which is seeking to legalize pot for
adults, said medical-marijuana users have spent their time and money
to learn how to grow the plant.

"Now they're telling them to throw everything away," said Larsen.
"This could be dealt with by city bylaws, regulation and inspection.
The lack of rules is what got us in trouble in the first place - now
they say, 'Ban it.' "

Pharmacists have lobbied to prevent medical-marijuana sales in their
shops, and Aglukkaq granted them their wish on Monday.

"The potential security risks to pharmacies due to robberies would
need to be considered," the Canadian Pharmacists Association wrote
Health Canada in February. "There is little information available on
safety, effectiveness, dosage, drug interactions or long-term health

Larsen isn't surprised that the drug vendors didn't sign on. "I never
expected pharmacists to sell pot," said Larsen.

With the changing rules of who can grow or sell it, Larsen sees only
one permanent solution.

"The only reason for medical-marijuana laws is to make it illegal for
everyone who doesn't have a doctor's note," said Larsen, who's seeking
enough signatures to put a legalize-pot referendum to B.C. voters

"If we legalize marijuana, the medical-marijuana problem is

Abbotsford-based lawyer John Conroy said he'll launch a constitutional
challenge on behalf of poor medical-marijuana users if the government
outlaws homegrown.

"One of the constitutional rights is the right to reasonable access -
there's a large group of people that won't have reasonable access
because they're poor," said Conroy.
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