True to his word, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pressing ahead with his plans for legalized cannabis. In 2017, when the rules are all finally in place, Canada will boast some of the most civilized cannabis laws in the world. Canada will soon see cannabis legalized across the entire country, not just ‘state by state’ as the USA has done. So what does the future hold for Canadian cannabis users, and what can the rest of the world learn from them?
- From August 24th, the ‘Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations’ (ACMPR) replace the 2013 Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR)
- These new laws allow for commercial Canadian cannabis production by official licensed producers, just like the MMPR rules allowed, but the new rules also allows patients themselves to produce a “limited amount” of cannabis for their own use. Or the patients can designate someone to grow it for them. This is seen as a real bonus for medical cannabis users. An ‘average patient’ consuming 1 gram per day, has the right to grow 5 indoor plants (or 2 outdoors) This decision will not be popular with the official large-scale Licensed Producers who may have been hoping for exclusive growing rights. But its good news for Canadian home growers. 5 indoor plants would allow self sufficiency especially with fast maturing modern auto flowers under 20 hours of daily light on a 10 week cycle. That could allow 0.5 - 1Kg indoor harvests every 10-11 weeks in skilled hands. Outdoors, a well grown cannabis plant can yield 1-2Kg+ of dry buds, and two plants can be grown. So the new home grown rules will allow some Canadian patients to grow all their own cannabis medicine, saving them lots of cash.
- The 34 licensed commercial cannabis producers will be the only legal source of “starting materials” — that means seeds and clones. This is seen as one of the worst aspects of the new Canadian legislation, and its completely un-enforceable which makes the law look badly thought out. In reality, most Canadian growers will prefer to source their genetics on the open market. Few will want to be restricted to the genetics that may be released by the ‘official’ licensed producers. Once seeds have been germinated, no-one will know whether they came from a Dutch seed company or an ‘official’ Canadian licensed producer. Introducing laws which will be routinely flouted should not be part of modern cannabis regulation, and Canada can do better. This article from the Canadian Globe & Mail gives a good overview of how the new rules are seen.
- People who want to use medical cannabis will still have to get a referral from an authorized Doctor, specifying a period of use of up to one year and a daily usage allowance. This means renewing your medical ‘card’ every year, something that may need reviewing in the future.
- Authorized cannabis users simply have to register to buy cannabis from a licensed producer. Or they can register with Health Canada to grow their own or have someone else (a ‘caregiver’) grow it for them. The care-giver, who can’t have a drug offence on their record in the past decade, can grow for a total of just two people.
- Patients can grow five plants indoors or two plants outdoors, assuming they use the ‘average’ amount of a gram per day. Outdoor plants can often yield much more than indoor plants, but may take longer to grow.
- Outdoor home grows can’t be close/next to a school, a childrens playground, nursery, daycare or public place mainly used by children.
- Police have 24/7 access to a helpline to verify that marijuana is being grown legally at any specific address.
- Storefront dispensaries and compassion clubs are still illegal until the laws change in 2017, says Health Canada, noting they’re “illegally supplied” and provide unregulated products that “may be unsafe.” Many were raided recently and closed down. Police are keen to see people wait until laws change.
- Health Canada suggested security measures for home growers include: Tall fencing with a locking gate or alarm system outdoors, strong locks on indoor areas where marijuana is produced or stored and child-proof storage.
- Health Canada also advise sufficient ventilation on indoor grows to prevent mould on plants/buildings. Electrical work has to be done by licensed professionals and pesticides have to be safe for plants to be eaten or vaporized. Health Canada also request that people talk to their healthcare provider about the potential health risks associated with smoking or otherwise consuming cannabis.
The new Canadian regulations may not yet be perfect, but they are far better approach compared to most other countries. Critics argue that not enough provision has been made for recreational home growers. But more announcements, rules and regulations for home growing are expected in 2017. Meanwhile Canadian home growers can access good quality international cannabis genetics from Canadian seed stores, retailers and suppliers.
The emerging Canadian laws allow for medical and recreational cannabis to be grown away from the black market. And the new Canadian model provides an alternative to old-fashioned ‘prohibition’ - which gifts all cannabis revenues to the criminal underworld.
Canada’s new regulations will generate plenty of good quality stable jobs and tax revenues, whats more they will further undermine black-market involvement in cannabis supply. That has to be the way forward.
September 1st 2016