New federal rules allowing home growing of medical marijuana take effect Aug. 24.

New medical pot grow rules draw praise, concern

Feds reopen licensing for home growers after court ruling

The lawyer who successfully overturned the former Conservative government’s ban on the home growing of medical marijuana is praising a move by the federal Liberals to create a new licensing system for doctor-approved patients.

Kirk Tousaw said the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which take effect Aug. 24, appear to be much the same as the old home growing licenses that prevailed until 2014 when the Conservative government tried to outlaw them and force approved patients to buy only from licensed commercial producers.

A Federal Court judge ruled last February that system was unfair to medical marijuana users who wanted to grow their own medicine, or designate someone to do it for them, and gave Ottawa six months to rewrite the rules.

“It looks like it’s essentially identical to the old system,” Tousaw said. “I’m certainly quite pleased and gratified that the current government seems to be much more receptive to the guidance of the courts than the prior Conservative government.”

Patients who are approved under the ACMPR rules will be able to grow five plants per day indoors (or two outdoors) for each daily gram of marijuana they’re authorized to use.

An injunction that exempted the 28,000 previously licensed growers from criminal prosecution remains in effect for now because federal officials admit they don’t have the capacity to issue new licences to all potential current users at once.

Health Canada says it will evaluate how the new system performs in providing reasonable medical access to cannabis, but will also study other potential delivery models, such as via pharmacies.

A statement issued by the federal department emphasizes the new regulations provide an immediate solution to the federal court ruling, but shouldn’t be interpreted as a long-term plan for medical access.

The federal government has named a task force to advise on how it should move next year to legalize and tightly regulate recreational marijuana access.

Big producers concerned

Nearly 70,000 medical marijuana users are receiving pot from the 34 licensed producers.

Those outlets will now be an option for legal access, but not the only one.

The commercial producers will be the only legal source of cannabis seeds or starter plants.

Some representatives of commercial producers of pot reacted with dismay.

But Canopy Growth Corp., owner of producer Tweed Inc., said it intends to offer rent space, genetic stock and supplies in its facilities to customers who would like to grow their own plants, but outside their homes.

The company said it has always supported home growing but called the new rules a policy setback because they do not yet address the problems of diversion to the black market, growing more than the authorized limits and the inability for police to differentiate between legal and illegal pot.

The federal government continues to take the position that cannabis dispensaries, which have proliferated in Vancouver in particular, are illegal storefront suppliers and subject to enforcement.

Tousaw said legal advocates will next be defending dispensaries – which he called the primary access point for most Canadians – following raids in various cities.

He also wants the government to make it easier for more growers to enter the commercial market, even at a small scale.

“It’s almost an art to grow extremely high quality connoisseur-grade cannabis,” Tousaw said. “People should be able to participate. If you can produce it and meet the lab testing requirements for safety and lack of contamination, then the government shouldn’t have any business telling you how you achieve those goals.”

Safety fears persist

Municipalities, meanwhile, continue to be concerned that the proliferation of legal grow-ops in residential areas – with a variety of associated health and safety concerns – will now continue unabated with the reinstatement of home grow licensing.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, whose testimony about the dangers of home growing was largely dismissed by the federal court, said he remains concerned about electrical fire safety risks from amateur rewiring and other hazards such as mould and herbicide contamination.

“We’ve been into almost 2,000 of these places and every one of them had a problem,” Garis said, referring to the City of Surrey’s system of inspecting home grows it identifies, usually from electricity use records.

“Our opinion still stands that it’s not an appropriate medium to be growing anything that involves that amount of humidity and those kinds of alterations to be able to do that.”

Garis said while municipalities will likely be forced to respect federal licensing, they can still apply appropriate safety and zoning regulations to try to minimize impacts either on current or future residents of a home, or other neighbours.

Just Posted

Opioid overdoses killing three people a month in Chilliwack

35 deaths in 2018 locally compare to 23 in 2017, 13 in 2016 up from about five per year before that

Chilliwack parent urges fellow dog owners to keep Fido off school grounds

Risks of harmful encounters between kids on and dogs are too high, says Chilliwack mom

Coquihalla closed southbound near Hope

DriveBC suggests detouring via Highway 1

It’s a snow day for the Fraser Cascade school district

School District 78 has closed all schools and stopped all bus routes for the day

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Third measles case in Vancouver prompts letter to parents

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air

Abbotsford’s Matsqui prison beefing up security against contraband

Correctional service says officials found a number of unauthorized items during ‘exceptional search’

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

B.C. man known as ‘Papa Jimmy’ dies making daily trek to his wife

Maple Ridge 85-year-old made visits to New West for 12 years

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

Most Read