Ottawa poised to put end to individuals growing medical marijuana

OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to tighten the rules on medical marijuana so that only licensed private operators are allowed to grow it, The Canadian Press has learned.

OTTAWA — The federal government is poised to tighten the rules on medical marijuana so that only licensed private operators are allowed to grow it, The Canadian Press has learned.

Sources say Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq wants to take individuals and Health Canada out of the business of growing pot.

Instead, she wants to tender licences to the private sector to produce marijuana in a way that is similar to how conventional drugs are produced — by companies, under tightly regulated conditions.

The move is a response to complaints from mayors, police and firefighters — mainly in British Columbia — who say sanctioned growers are abusing their permits and often growing far more than they need.

Just this month, for example, police in Maple Ridge, B.C., found more than 1,400 plants at a site that was permitted to grow just 220.

“There are significant issues with people cultivating above the limit,” said Eric Nash, a legal cannabis expert on Vancouver Island.

Police have also complained that even growers who stick to their limit attract criminals to their sites, creating a neighbourhood safety risk.

And municipal officials are concerned about the fire hazard from chemicals and faulty wiring that may be used in growing the plants.

Indeed, B.C., mayors have been asking Health Canada to change the medical marijuana rules to require municipal permits.

They say licences to cultivate medical marijuana have been given out without informing local authorities or requiring proper building permits. Local emergency responders aren’t able to tell the difference between legal and illegal grow-ops.

The mayors took their campaign to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities earlier this month and won national support, with the organization formally asking Ottawa to clamp down.

Aglukkaq is expected to go further than requested by the mayors, but not right away. She intends to phase in the changes, but also to consult on the technicalities of how best to implement them.

“At this point in time, we will be looking to consult on changes that we hope will balance patient access with safety and security,” said Aglukkaq’s spokesman, Steve Outhouse.

For now, there are three legal ways to grow medical marijuana. A person who gets a doctor’s prescription will then be allowed to grow a certain number of plants. Or, the patient can outsource the cultivation to a designated grower.

Health Canada also has a contract with a Saskatchewan company, Prairie Plant Systems Inc., to grow medical marijuana on a large scale. But patients complain that the company only produces one strain and they find it expensive.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Edmonton Eskimos' Tanner Green, right, knocks the ball from Calgary Stampeders' Romar Morris during first half CFL football action in Calgary in 2019. Green has been waiting for nearly 17 months to get back on the field with the Edmonton Football Team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lacombe’s Tanner Green happy to finally see a CFL return to play date

CFL announced Wednesday league will return on Aug. 5

Instructor Brandt Trimble leads an outdoor spin class at RYDE RD. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Fitness facilities continue to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

‘It’s really frustrating to be one of the targeted businesses’

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins (Photo contributed)
Federal budget strangles job growth, says MP Blaine Calkins

‘It is most certainly not a balanced budget’

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Canada eyes policy on travel from India due to massive COVID surge

Canada eyes policy on travel from India due to massive COVID surge

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. Farnworth says the government will release details of what is considered essential travel later in the week where the province is considering using roadblocks to limit the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Halifax author tackles notorious tale of N.S. family in new novel

Halifax author tackles notorious tale of N.S. family in new novel

The Rogers Logo is photographed in Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers CEO ‘deeply disappointed’ software upgrade caused wireless outage

TORONTO — The chief executive of Rogers Communications Inc. said Wednesday that… Continue reading

Governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem holds a press conference at the Bank Of Canada in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook

Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook

Pumpjacks pump crude oil in Alberta on June 20, 2007.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Court asked to step in as SanLing Energy warns it intends to stop operations

Court asked to step in as SanLing Energy warns it intends to stop operations

Canadian Pacific Railway president and CEO Keith Creel addresses the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CP Rail asks U.S. regulator to rule on its and CN’s rival Kansas City Southern bids

CP Rail asks U.S. regulator to rule on its and CN’s rival Kansas City Southern bids

A man walks into a Cargill meat processing factory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Site of COVID outbreak last year: Vaccination clinic at Alberta meat plant postponed

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — A COVID-19 vaccination clinic for thousands of workers… Continue reading

Most Read