Pubdate: Thu, 09 Jan 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick


THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is preparing to rescind more than 16,500
British Columbians' licences to produce medical marijuana.

That has the B.C. Ministry of Justice worried that a lot of people who
have been growing weed legally will go on caring for their plants
after they've lost their permits to do so. What's more, there's very
little police will be able to do to stop patients from continuing to
cultivate their own medicine.

According to documents posted online by the province on December 30,
2013, the federal government has failed to respond to the ministry's
questions on those points and others regarding changes to
medicinal-marijuana regulations scheduled to take effect on April 1.

"Police in B.C. are concerned that many of these operations will
continue to grow marijuana after their MMAR [Marihuana for Medical
Access Regulation] licenses expire," states a September 18, 2013,
briefing note prepared for B.C. Attorney General and Minister of
Justice Suzanne Anton. "Exacerbating this issue is the fact that
Health Canada, citing privacy concerns, does not intend to disclose
the addresses of former licensed grow operations once they are no
longer permitted to legally grow marijuana."

The documents were released in response to a freedom of information
request and subsequently posted online by the province. Though heavily
redacted, one portion left intact notes problems the province has with
Ottawa's "transition plan" for the regulatory changes. Quoted in part,
those concerns include a lack of answers from the federal government
on the following:

- - A plan to deal with potentially unsafe properties formerly used for
medical marijuana production

- - Whether inspections of previous production locations will be
conducted to ensure cessation of production as well as the safety of
these sites

- - How existing MMAR producers will be informed of the transition to
MMPR [Marihuana for Medicinal Purposes Regulation]=C2=85and what will be
required of them to ensure they are in compliance with the Criminal
Code of Canada

"While a transition plan has been created," the briefing note states,
"it does not deal with the concerns regarding what will happen to
dwelling places formerly used for growing marijuana."

According to the document, there were 16,588 production licences
issued in British Columbia as of July 29, 2013.

The B.C. Ministry of Justice is not the only provincial body to
disagree with Ottawa on certain provisions of the new rules. In
October 2013, the Straight reported that the B.C. Ministry of Health
has also "objected" to some of the incoming restrictions on medicinal

In a May 2013 "issue note", the province expressed concerns regarding
the MMPR only providing for the selling of dried marijuana (excluding
options such as edibles), and that price increases will likely follow
the discontinuation of personal production licences.

Both the B.C. Ministry of Justice and the B.C. Ministry of Health
declined to answer questions about whether or not their concerns have
been addressed.

In October 2013, Health Canada spokesperson Sean Upton told the
Straight the department is not doing interviews on the topic of
medicinal marijuana.
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