The majority of patients do not have health care benefits for medical marijuana. Now, new rules risk leaving a large number of people painfully short of supply. Thankfully, a Federal Court judge has ordered an injunction following the recent regulations that had banned registered medical marijuana patients from growing their own botanicals.
Previously, medical marijuana patients in Canada had the choice of growing enough of their own product to fill their prescription. However, the deadline for phasing out the old system and moving the production of medical marijuana to registered producers was set for April 1, 2014. This overhaul of the the system will effectively privatize the industry.
The injunction had been granted on the grounds that the new rules were deemed unconstitutional. It certainly begs a court review considering how many patients depend upon their prescription. A prescription that is now being abruptly taken from them. Judge Michael Manson has permitted patients who were already growing (as of Sept. 30th, 2013) to continue to grow until the courts can determine the constitutional implication of the new laws.
The federal government deemed the system overhaul necessary to remedy the problems of unsafe grow-ops and infiltration by “criminals.” Now the Federal Court has acted against the wishes of the government. Patients who are still growing their own botanicals may possess as much as 150 grams (that’s just over five ounces!).
A high demand with a limited supply can only lead to increased costs in the short term for patients in pain. It will take time for the newly organized producers to build up their operations in order to grow enough product to fill the expanding list of registered patients.
Meanwhile, the court injunction may have the dual benefit of allowing producers a reprieve: It’s a chance to expand their operations to better serve their growing list of patients. Tweed Inc. has recently expanded their current operations in Smith Falls, ON, with a second facility in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The second licence had originally been granted to Park Lane Farms, a company that was acquired by Tweed Marijuana Inc. shortly after the site approval was granted. This makes Tweed Inc. the first producer in Canada to operate two facilities and hold two commercial marijuana licences.
Patients buying from any other producer in Canada will likely be relegated to a waiting list for now.
It is regrettable that just prior to the court injunction “Health Canada had warned any patient licensed to grow pot under the current rules must confirm they have destroyed their plants or they would be reported to the police.” This was a senseless waste in hindsight.
There are advantages to the new system. Ideally, the Canadian government can arrive at a compromise. Those patients gifted with gardening prowess should be allowed to continue growing their own marijuana in accordance with the laws. While registered producers will be there to fill the needs of those who cannot grow their own medicine.
We only hope that the government transition to the new medical marijuana model is as painless as possible for all Canadians.