It seems that we are on the cusp of change for cannabis in Canada. Now that CSSDP members have reported and reflected on many of the 420 festivities that took place across the country, this post will focus on the future of cannabis in Canada to complete the 420 Blog Series. There are three main developments to keep an eye on…
Cannabis activists hold a rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 1, 2014 to protest the government’s new MMPR Regulations. Photograph by: Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press[/caption]
1) MMPR Injunction
As Lisa outlined in her post on 420 celebrations in Alberta, the MMAR Coalition of Repeal has blocked Health Canada’s new marijuana laws (MMPR or Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) via a temporary injunction which will maintain patients’ right to grow or to have a designated grower until a constitutional challenge of the new system has been conducted. John C. Conroy, the leading lawyer of the MMAR Coalition of Repeal, argues that under section seven of the Charter, everyone who is medically approved to use cannabis has a right to reasonable access to it as medicine. For many patients who cannot afford black market or licensed producer prices, MMPR will force them to have to choose between their liberty (being arrested and charged with production of marijuana) and their health (accessing the medicine that works best for their health). Judge Michael Manson granted the injunction, ruling that the group that will not be able to afford marijuana if prices increase as they are predicted to do so under MMPR will be “irreparably harmed by the effects of the (new regulations).” Although a trial has not been scheduled, Manson expects it to occur within nine to twelve months. Not long after the injunction was granted, the Government of Canada stated that they intend to appeal the injunction. It is not known when the federal appeal of the injunction will be heard. For now, the injunction stands, and patients can continue to grow until at least the next court ruling.
In his post on 420 celebrations in Vancouver, Alex provided us with a recap of Sensible BC’s attempt to decriminalize cannabis by redirecting policing funds through a referendum. Unfortunately, this attempt at grassroots-led reform did not succeed last November as Sensible BC was unable to meet the minimum requirements needed to have a referendum. Sensible BC had to produce 300,000 signatures over three months. If that wasn’t difficult enough, the signatures had to represent at least 10% of voters in each of British Columbia’s 85 electoral districts. Despite the administrative hurdles, Sensible BC was able to gather over 200,000 signatures in three months in support of a referendum for marijuana reform. Sensible BC has more than 4500 volunteers, and is planning on giving the signature-gathering effort another shot soon. If you are living in British Columbia, be sure to visit the Sensible BC website to find out how you can support their efforts.
The Liberal Party has stated that they support legalizing and regulating marijuana. This is sure to spark major platform discussions during the 2015 elections. A draft policy paper created by the policy committee of the British Columbia branch of the Liberal Party of Canada gives some indication of what regulation of cannabis may look like in Canada. It recommends a 4 ounce limit for the amount a non-licensed distributor can purchase or possess without obtaining a special permit and points to the need for other limits for cannabis-infused goods, plants for personal use, and marijuana extracts. The report also suggests the use of provincial liquor store networks as part of the infrastructure to deliver marijuana. Click here, here, and here to read more about what the future in Canada could look like if the Liberals legalize and regulate cannabis.
CSSDP is looking forward to what is sure to be an exciting year for cannabis in Canada. We hope to have even more to celebrate at 420 next year!