New federal rules allowing home growing of medical marijuana take effect Aug. 24.

New medical pot grow rules draw praise, concern

Feds reopen licensing for home growers after court ruling

The lawyer who successfully overturned the former Conservative government’s ban on the home growing of medical marijuana is praising a move by the federal Liberals to create a new licensing system for doctor-approved patients.

Kirk Tousaw said the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which take effect Aug. 24, appear to be much the same as the old home growing licenses that prevailed until 2014 when the Conservative government tried to outlaw them and force approved patients to buy only from licensed commercial producers.

A Federal Court judge ruled last February that system was unfair to medical marijuana users who wanted to grow their own medicine, or designate someone to do it for them, and gave Ottawa six months to rewrite the rules.

“It looks like it’s essentially identical to the old system,” Tousaw said. “I’m certainly quite pleased and gratified that the current government seems to be much more receptive to the guidance of the courts than the prior Conservative government.”

Patients who are approved under the ACMPR rules will be able to grow five plants per day indoors (or two outdoors) for each daily gram of marijuana they’re authorized to use.

An injunction that exempted the 28,000 previously licensed growers from criminal prosecution remains in effect for now because federal officials admit they don’t have the capacity to issue new licences to all potential current users at once.

Health Canada says it will evaluate how the new system performs in providing reasonable medical access to cannabis, but will also study other potential delivery models, such as via pharmacies.

A statement issued by the federal department emphasizes the new regulations provide an immediate solution to the federal court ruling, but shouldn’t be interpreted as a long-term plan for medical access.

The federal government has named a task force to advise on how it should move next year to legalize and tightly regulate recreational marijuana access.

Big producers concerned

Nearly 70,000 medical marijuana users are receiving pot from the 34 licensed producers.

Those outlets will now be an option for legal access, but not the only one.

The commercial producers will be the only legal source of cannabis seeds or starter plants.

Some representatives of commercial producers of pot reacted with dismay.

But Canopy Growth Corp., owner of producer Tweed Inc., said it intends to offer rent space, genetic stock and supplies in its facilities to customers who would like to grow their own plants, but outside their homes.

The company said it has always supported home growing but called the new rules a policy setback because they do not yet address the problems of diversion to the black market, growing more than the authorized limits and the inability for police to differentiate between legal and illegal pot.

The federal government continues to take the position that cannabis dispensaries, which have proliferated in Vancouver in particular, are illegal storefront suppliers and subject to enforcement.

Tousaw said legal advocates will next be defending dispensaries – which he called the primary access point for most Canadians – following raids in various cities.

He also wants the government to make it easier for more growers to enter the commercial market, even at a small scale.

“It’s almost an art to grow extremely high quality connoisseur-grade cannabis,” Tousaw said. “People should be able to participate. If you can produce it and meet the lab testing requirements for safety and lack of contamination, then the government shouldn’t have any business telling you how you achieve those goals.”

Safety fears persist

Municipalities, meanwhile, continue to be concerned that the proliferation of legal grow-ops in residential areas – with a variety of associated health and safety concerns – will now continue unabated with the reinstatement of home grow licensing.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, whose testimony about the dangers of home growing was largely dismissed by the federal court, said he remains concerned about electrical fire safety risks from amateur rewiring and other hazards such as mould and herbicide contamination.

“We’ve been into almost 2,000 of these places and every one of them had a problem,” Garis said, referring to the City of Surrey’s system of inspecting home grows it identifies, usually from electricity use records.

“Our opinion still stands that it’s not an appropriate medium to be growing anything that involves that amount of humidity and those kinds of alterations to be able to do that.”

Garis said while municipalities will likely be forced to respect federal licensing, they can still apply appropriate safety and zoning regulations to try to minimize impacts either on current or future residents of a home, or other neighbours.

Just Posted

Abbotsford parents invited to anti-gang education session

Presenters to discern myth from reality, offer warning signs that youths are getting into gangs

Welcome to 89 years at the same Abbotsford address

Philip Sheffield lunch brings past students together one more time

Abbotsford firefighters knock down house fire before it can spread

No one believed to be inside structure at the time of the fire on Clayburn Road Saturday morning

Abbotsford youths grill mayor on environmental policy at rally

Local youths continued climate strike as worldwide action takes place in hundreds of cities

Stolen stamp collection has been returned to owners in Abbotsford

Good Samaritan found the stamps hidden away in some bushes and turned them over to police

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read