Before releasing details of a revamped, nationwide medical marijuana growing and distribution regime last week, Health Canada officials probably knew they’d be face a backlash from some corner or another — pharmacists, health-care professionals, personal-rights advocates and the industry, to name just four — no matter what they did.
But given the explosion in the number of people licenced to use pot for medicinal purposes since the old system was launched in 2001 — from 500 then to an estimated 30,000 now, projected to rise to 50,000 by 2014 — and the helter-skelter nature of the current system, they had to do something. So far, though, it seems the negative response to the rules slated to take effect on April 1, 2014, has been muted — doctors worried that they’ll be forced to prescribe it and those who fear the regulations will cause the price to rise significantly, sending some back to the streets to get their medicine.
It seems, though, that implementing a new production and distribution system is going to be less problematic than dismantling the old one. This week, the Vancouver Sun reported that while the Feds plan to ask the 13,000 licensed pot grow ops in B.C. to shut down, they’re offering no serious plan to enforce the closures, much to the chagrin of B.C. municipal leaders.
In July, The Chief reported that because of privacy rules, Health Canada would not make a list of the licensed operations available to police until after they had received a complaint. Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told the Sun this week that the agency will only tell police whether a pot grower has a licence after they have obtained and are about to execute a search warrant. An Abbotsford police spokesperson said about 70 per cent of the department’s grow-op investigations are stopped at the “11th hour” for that reason.
Can you say, “waste of resources?” We thought so.
Of Abbotsford’s 829 licensed grow-ops, by the way, 729 are authorized to grow only for themselves. Extrapolating the figures from a city of 123,000 to one of some 17,000, that would give Squamish something on the order of 114, with around 100 of those licenced to grow only for themselves.
This, then, isn’t such a small problem. It would certainly be nice to see Ottawa and/or Victoria to take further action to help local governments fix it.
— David Burke