Canadian Laws on Cannabis
Medical marijuana is a great alternative for pharmacy drugs that do more harm than good. The herb has been a staple for patients who suffer from conditions that do not respond to traditional medication. While the adoption of this miracle cure has been fast in the US, Canadian laws on cannabis have some catching up to do.
The good news is that the country is making inroads in making sure that Canadians are not deprived. The first ever regulation that allowed patients to access medical cannabis came into existence in 2001. Known as MMAR or the Marijuana Medical Access Regulation, it allows patients who have the herb in dried form or in the shape of a bud or flower.
This includes a license from the Canadian government signed by their acting physician. Before, patients could only get one strain from a government mandated supplier but there were also licenses available for those who wished to grow their own. This allowed them to get strains that could treat specific conditions.
However, this rule was restricted to those who fell under 2 specific classifications and those were also concerned with extreme cases that had debilitating symptoms. The application process was also overly complex and lengthy so much so that the total number of patients were barely 40,000 in number once MMAR was abolished.
The Cannabis Act
Today, Canadian citizens can get access to medical cannabis provided that they adhere to the strict legal requirements that control its growth, production and sale. This is necessary because despite its medical benefits and alike any other medication, marijuana can be abused as well. Known as the Cannabis Act, the new regulations seek to:
- Protect youngster from promoting or being attracted to marijuana in any shape or form.
- Restrict their access to the drug.
- Reduce criminal activity surrounding the drug by setting strict criminal penalties for everyone who breaks the law regarding the import, export and sale of marijuana to young people.
- Make the Canadian criminal justice system easier to manage.
- Allow (adult) patients access to medical cannabis provided that it is regulated, quality controlled and in-keeping with existing laws.
- Increase public awareness of the health concerns involved in abusing marijuana.
Patients who wish to access marijuana for use as a medical aid can do so provided that they do not violate the rules in the Act. The proposed bill can be turned into law as quickly as June 2018. Once it is set in place, the Act will prohibit cannabis for anyone in Canada who is under 18 years of age. People who are discovered distributing it to young people or using them as their distributors will face 14 years in jail.
In order to ensure the youth of Canada do not have access to the drug, the Act also places restrictions on:
- Any packaging or labeling that makes medical marijuana or cannabis in any shape or form appealing to youngsters.
- The sale of cannabis through vending machines or through displays.
- The promotion of cannabis in forms other than those that can be seen by young people.
- Products based on cannabis that see, appealing to youngsters.
If anyone is found in violation of these rules in Canada they can face up to $5 million in fines or 3 years in prison if they don’t have that much money. In order to prevent this from happening the government has allocated up to $9 million in an awareness program that can keep Canadians informed about the implications of cannabis distribution and consumption. This includes detailing surveillance activities designed to reveal illegal trade.
If the Act becomes part of Canadian laws on cannabis next year, anyone who is above 18 years old will be able to:
- Acquire and possess about 30 grams of dried cannabis or non-dried cannabis
- Share about the same amount with other adults.
- Buy cannabis in fresh or dry form including its oil from a certified retailer.
- Cultivate and grow marijuana plants that should not exceed 100cm in height in one residence at a time for personal use or to sell.
- Create products using cannabis such as edibles provided that they use organic solvents.
It should also be noted that Health Canada does not recognize dispensaries or stores that sell cannabis. They are not allowed to sell the drug as far as the Canadian laws on cannabis go and most are supplied by sellers who are growing marijuana illegally. This includes products made from unregulated cannabis which can result in a number of serious health issues if consumed. Most are particularly unsafe for children.
Most marijuana dispensaries in the country do not sell regulated products but they get away with it in court because they are operating within the grey area of the Canadian laws on cannabis. People who choose to buy from them are only putting themselves and their families at risk. They run the risk of contamination from pesticides, heavy metals and fertilizers used for growing the plant illegally. This includes pathogens that can make a medical condition worse rather than better which is what legal medical marijuana is known for.
There are a number of public health and safety concerns regarding the consumption of cannabis that is grown illegally or in an unregulated environment. Marijuana that is grown without the consent of the Canadian laws on cannabis is usually targeted at youngsters because they are inexperienced with its use and gullible to boot. The Cannabis Act aims to protect them by regulating the growth and sale of the drug and to ensure that adults who need it can have access to quality medical aids.
Those who are involved in organized crime related to the illegal growth, sale and distribution of the drug in Canada will face severe criminal penalties if caught. These include minor penalties such as warning for minor offences to incarceration that can take as long as 14 years for serious ones.
Medical cannabis is a miracle drug but it has a potential of abuse like most medication. The Canadian government is on the right path to ensure it does not turn into an addiction for the youth.
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