New medical marijuana laws a downer
Oct 3, 2013 / 6:05 am
Small time medical marijuana growers will soon see their operations go 'up in smoke'.
It used to be that patients who received doctor approval could grow (or have someone else grow) small quantities for their use. If that was not possible they were able to request amounts directly from Health Canada.
But not anymore, as of March 2014 the government will essentially scrap the current system and replace it with a private system that some believe will hurt those who grow their own for affordability reasons.
“For a lot of people that were relying on growing their own cannabis for medical purposes it means that they are going to have to stop doing that and start buying it from one of these licensed producers.
It's much more affordable for people to grow their own and a lot of chronically ill people do have financial constraints,” says Dr. Zach Walsh, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Psychological Science and Law at UBC Okanagan.
On the other hand people who were unable to grow their own and had to buy from Health Canada will now be offered better quality product.
“Getting Health Canada out of the business of growing cannabis is a good thing ...when we had health Canada growing the cannabis they were doing a terrible job of it, so I think having a variety of strains and high quality cannabis available is a good thing.
But, we have to make sure that the needs of patients are carefully attended to and that no one is left out or put in further financial jeopardy where they have to choose between their medicine and some of the other necessities of living,” says Walsh.
The other argument against medical marijuana is that it allows ‘legal’ marijuana to make its way onto the black market.
“There isn’t a whole lot of evidence to support that notion,” says Walsh.
“The idea that you would want to advertise your grow op to the government and then continue to use it illegally is just bizarre. If people wanted to act outside of the law they would just do so rather than this sort of mixed half in half out thing.
People who grow cannabis for the black market are largely growing it for the black market only and not bothering to pretend they are medical growers,” argues Walsh.
In fact he believes it really hands over the market to the criminals entirely as regular people (personal growers) who fear the repercussions of law will not risk being put in jail just to grow their own.
“It drives people who aren’t part of organized crime out of the business, and hands it all to organized crime,” says Walsh.
As to whether Dr. Walsh himself is marijuana advocate he says, “I am an advocate for people getting effective medication, I wouldn’t say I am a cannabis advocate per se, I am just an open minded scientist that wants to ensure the best for the health of Canadians.”
Health Canada is now phasing out the current system, which will be done by the end of March 2014.
Starting this week medical marijuana users will now need to send an application directly to sanctioned corporate producers along with a doctor’s note.
If approved, they can place an order, pay the current market price and wait for the courier to deliver their pot.
“It is an exciting time, it’s great to see an ancient medicine like cannabis (which was part of the mainstream of medicines until the 1930’s) finding its way back into the pharmacopeia. There are so many people that are interested in finding alternative cures and different ways of managing their health and it’s good to see the senseless prohibition in Canada is winding down,” adds Dr. Walsh.
Here are come interesting facts about medical marijuana in Canada:
- Current number of medical marijuana users approved by Health Canada: 37,359, up from 477 in 2002.
- Number of patients with personal licenses to grow marijuana for themselves: 25,600 (ends March 31, 2014)
- Current number of entrepreneur applications to grow medical marijuana under new rules allowing larger facilities: 156
- Health Canada's current price for medical marijuana produced under contract: $5 a gram
- Health Canada's projection of profitable private-sector price in 2014 after the new free-market kicks in: $7.60
- Projection of average price as market matures in several years: $8.80
- Current estimated cost of black-market dried marijuana purchased on the street: $10 to $15 a gram
- Projected total additional cost to all approved patients as a result of the new system: $166 million a year for 10 years
- Sales projections for the new industry by 2024: $1.3 billion a year.
(Sources: Health Canada; CanniMed)
Do you grow medical marijuana? What do you think about the new law? Send us a letter and tell us your story; to [email protected]
With files from The Canadian Press
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