Update on my post The Great Canadian Cannabis Bandwagon Coming to a Town Near You! (Nov. 2/16):
With two weeks left until their Nov. 30 deadline, there’s still no word on when or whether the fed task force studying the pros and cons of allowing the recreational use of marijuana has completed or submitted its report.
I emailed the task force secretariat for an update and received this brushoff yesterday:
The Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation will submit their report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Health in November 2016. It will be made public at a time to be determined by the three ministers.
My initial blog concerned a marijuana grow op on 28th Avenue in Ile Perrot which isn’t listed among the 36 growers you’ll find on Health Canada’s interactive map (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/list-eng.php)
Turns out it’s not the only unlisted Quebec producer.
Sûreté du Québec sources have confirmed they are aware of ‘several’ in the province although the sole licensed operator on the Health Canada map is Gatineau-based Hydropothecary.
So what, right?
What emerges is proof of a two-tiered approval system for legal grow ops. One we can see on Health Canada’s interactive map, those 36 licenced commercial producers. The other is a covert system of grey-area grow ops operated by persons who are authorized to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes, either locally or nationally (Health Canada’s words, not mine). Nothing about these tier-two grow ops is public — size, location, ownership, clientele, product testing and certification – nothing.
Yet a 24/7 Health Canada hotline allows police forces to check whether an officially unlicensed operation has a licence to grow.
I get this from a series of questions I submitted to Health Canada, beginning with whether it’s possible for a medical/experimental marijuana producer to operate legally without a licence.
My other key question was whether it’s possible for a licenced medical/experimental marijuana producer to conduct operations without being listed on the Health Canada map.
The following comes from Anna Maddison, a senior media relations advisor :
Only producers who are authorized by Health Canada to produce and sell to the public may sell or provide dried marijuana, fresh marijuana, cannabis oil or starting materials (e.g., seeds and plants) to eligible persons. There are only 36 authorized commercial licensed producers, as per the list you referenced on Health Canada’s website: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/list-eng.php.
With the introduction of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in August 2016, individuals who have the authorization of their health care practitioner can apply to Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.
All persons registered or licensed by Health Canada must abide by the law and operate at all times within the limits set out when they are registered or licensed by Health Canada. Individuals are authorized to produce and possess for their own medical purposes only and it is illegal for them to share, provide or sell what they have produced with anyone else.
Health Canada supports law enforcement representatives by providing a dedicated phone line that is accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week to confirm, when necessary, that specific individuals are authorized to possess or produce a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes. Anyone who suspects the occurrence of activity that may violate a law should contact their local law or municipal enforcement authority.
Is there a limit to the number of licenced producers in a given area?
No. The regulations do not establish a limit on the number of licensed producers, or persons who are authorized to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes, either locally or nationally.
What are the regulations concerning notification of neighbours?
Are local and/or regional law enforcement and municipal authorities notified of licence applications on their turf?
Prior to submitting an application to become a licensed producer of cannabis for medical purposes, the applicant must provide a written notice to local authorities to inform them of their intention to submit an application. The notice must include the applicant’s name, the activities for which the licence is sought (i.e., that activities are to be conducted in respect of cannabis), the site address at which the applicant proposes to conduct those activities (and of each building on the site, if applicable), as well as the date when the application will be submitted to Health Canada.
A notification must be provided to:
– the local police force or Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment responsible for providing policing services to the area in which the proposed site is located;
– the local fire authority of that area; and
– the local government (e.g., municipality.)
The same information must be provided to local authorities upon a change of status to the licence, such as issuance, suspension, revocation.
There is no requirement for licensed producers, or applicants to become a licensed producer, or persons registered with Health Canada to produce limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, to notify neighbours or surrounding residents or businesses.
Are licenced producers required to obtain business or other permits from their local governments?
Licensed producers are required to comply with all applicable provincial, territorial and municipal laws, including zoning restrictions, fire and electrical safety and waste management.
Can they intervene (i.e. do they have the right to oppose a permit application)?
During the application review process, municipalities may provide information to Health Canada regarding a specific application. Health Canada considers all relevant information when making a decision to issue or refuse a licence. Municipalities can use the tools at their disposal, such as zoning and bylaws, to set parameters for the production of cannabis.
What I get from this is that anyone who wants to set up a grow op can apply for a medical-exemption permit and go into business as long as they have the blessing of their municipality. Health Canada’s blanket protection ensures they don’t get asked too many questions.
It’s doubtful the public will raise a fuss about people growing marijuana, what with the pendulum swinging toward the legalization of recreational use across North America. My problem with what I see is that it opens the door to recriminalization, in the form of municipal corruption. What’s to prevent a corrupt council from approving a grow op without the public’s awareness, let alone consultation?
I expected greater transparency from the Trudeau government. I didn’t expect them to use the pot file to download even more corruption possibilities on the provinces.