Cannabis oil, fresh marijuana now available following Supreme Court decision

Forms of marijuana used for everything from brownies to lip balms are now legally available following Health Canada’s swift response to Supreme Court ruling.

 By: Stephanie Levitz The Canadian Press, Published on Wed Jul 08 2015
cbd-extract-cannabis-oil

OTTAWA—Rules that limited medical marijuana users to only dried forms of the drug have gone up in smoke.

Forms of marijuana that can be used to make everything from brownies to lip balms will now be legally available following Health Canada’s swift response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that had struck down an element of the previous regulations on access to medical marijuana as unconstitutional.

In a directive issued Wednesday, the department said that cannabis oils, as well as fresh marijuana buds and leaves, can now be sold by licensed producers provided they follow similar packaging and labelling requirements as exist for dried marijuana.

The medical cannabis industry applauded the move as a signal that Canada is a world leader in compassionate and rational medical cannabis policy.

But Health Minister Rona Ambrose suggested the government only acted because it had to.

“It’s important that Canadians understand that marijuana is not an approved drug in Canada or an approved medicine. It has not gone through what is the very rigorous testing for safety and efficacy that every drug in Canada goes through,” Ambrose said at an unrelated event in Edmonton Wednesday.

“(Health Canada) will implement what the Supreme Court has said in their court-imposed marijuana for medicinal purposes program. But their first top-of-line message is, ‘Marijuana is not a medicine.’”

In June, the top court ruled that the existing regulations restricting medical marijuana possession to dried pot violated the charter in part because anyone possessing other forms of the drug was at risk of going to jail.

“The prohibition of non-dried forms of medical marijuana limits liberty and security of the person in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice,” said the unanimous written judgment.

The ruling also said because there were limited ways to use dried pot, people were forced to choose a treatment that was potentially less effective or even dangerous for them in order to comply with the law — and that too was unconstitutional.

In turn, however, the ruling created some confusion as to whether it gave people the right to sell products made from marijuana, such as butters or brownies.

The new regulations allow licensed producers to sell cannabis oil or fresh leaves or buds, but they can’t turn it into other products.

But the regulations do allow those authorized to possess medical marijuana to convert any form of the drug, including dried, into other products for their own use, which they legally weren’t allowed to do before.

For patients, it’s a welcome step forward, the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association said in a statement.

Many can’t inhale cannabis and others find they are better able to manage their symptoms by ingesting, rather than inhaling, they said.

“By including a greater variety of options for different modes of delivery, Canada has shown itself once again to be a world leader in compassionate and rational medical cannabis policy,” said Neil Belot, the association’s executive director.

While the government used to be the sole producer of medical marijuana, it got out of the business two years ago and began licensing private producers according to a strict set of criteria, including that products had to be in child-resistant packaging and clearly labelled.

The move led to a growth in the marijuana business across the country, prompting the establishment of dispensaries and compassion clubs, though Health Canada repeated in its directive Wednesday that they are considered illegal.

Still, last month Vancouver became the first Canadian municipality to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, requiring operators to pay a $30,000 licensing fee and locate at least 300 metres away from community centres, schools, and each other.

The stores are banned from selling edible products in part due to data showing child poisonings skyrocketed by 600 per cent in U.S. states where marijuana is legal.

Article source The Star

UPDATED

Medical marijuana producers OK’d to produce, sell oil and fresh buds

Conservative government’s resistance to marijuana oil up in smoke following Supreme Court ruling

By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Jul 08, 2015 12:58 PM ET

Health Canada is clarifying its rules for licensed medical marijuana producers to allow them to produce and sell cannabis oil, as well as fresh buds and leaves, following a Supreme Court decision that lets patients use pot derivatives.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose had initially said she was outraged by the Supreme Court of Canada decision, which lets patients consume marijuana, not just smoke it. The government had tried to limit medical pot use to dried marijuana only.

But the ruling left a grey area with producers being limited under the law to selling dried forms of marijuana even though patients were allowed to consume other forms.

In a statement Wednesday, Health Canada said the new interpretation was effective immediately and intended to eliminate uncertainty.

Producers are not allowed to sell plant material that could be used to grow pot, the statement said. It also reiterated that compassion clubs and dispensaries are illegal.

‘Dragged kicking and screaming’

Ambrose said her department was meeting “the requirements dictated by the Supreme Court of Canada.”

“Health Canada is doing so in a manner that respects the rule of law, protects public health and public safety, and reflects the serious health risks with marijuana, especially for youth,” Ambrose said in a statement released by her office.

“Canadian courts have once again required government to allow access to marijuana when authorized by a physician…. Marijuana is neither an approved drug nor medicine in Canada and Health Canada does not endorse its use.”

Ambrose’s statement makes three separate references to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has called for marijuana to be legalized and regulated. The Conservatives frequently attack Trudeau’s position on marijuana, alleging he would make it easier for teens to get pot.

Kirk Tousaw, the lawyer who represented the respondent in the Supreme Court case, said he was surprised Health Canada is taking small steps to progress, but noted the federal department had to be “dragged kicking and screaming” by the court.

Tousaw said he’s concerned the licensed producers still aren’t allowed to sell products other than oil and fresh bud and leaves — for example, it remains illegal for them to sell brownies, tea or other products that are now legal for medical marijuana patients to consume.

A number of producers hailed the move, saying they were pleased they could serve patients.

Corrections

  • This story has been updated from an earlier version that said Health Minister Rona Ambrose made the announcement in Edmonton. In fact, Health Canada issued a news release about clarifying the medical marijuana rules, and Ambrose did not make the announcement.
    Jul 08, 2015 1:11 PM ET

Article source CBC News

Health Canada now allowing licensed medical pot growers to sell cannabis oil