B.C. government raises alarm by going after addresses of medicinal marijuana growers

Provincial law enforcement agencies appear to be pushing Health Canada to hand over the personal information of more than 16,500 British Columbians licensed to produce medicinal marijuana, a top pot advocate has warned.

“The cops want to know who was growing marijuana so they can go knock on their doors,” said Dana Larsen, former campaign coordinator for the Sensible B.C. campaign to decriminalize cannabis. “Anybody who got involved in this program in good faith is, I’m sure, feeling pretty darn betrayed right now.”

Larsen was speaking to the Straight about an September 2013 briefing note prepared for B.C. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.

Though heavily redacted, the document lists a number of concerns the province has with medicinal marijuana regulation changes scheduled to take effect on April 1.

Larsen characterized as most prominent law enforcement agencies’ wish for the federal government to share locations associated with the medicinal marijuana production licenses that are set to expire. (With the switch from the old rules to the Conservatives’ new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation, licence holders will only be allowed to purchase dried cannabis via mail order.)

“Health Canada, citing privacy concerns, does not intend to disclose the addresses of former licensed grow operations once they are no longer permitted to legally grow marijuana,” the memo states, later emphasizing: “There is need for two-way information sharing between Health Canada and local governments, fire, and police to ensure that any criminal or safety concerns uncovered during inspections are communicated to the relevant body for follow-up.”

The B.C. Ministry of Justice declined to make a representative available for an interview. According to an emailed statement sent by public affairs officer Niki Pandachuck, the province supports the regulatory changes; however, “There are concerns about the transition to the new regime.”

“The ministry believes Health Canada should take steps to prevent the potential diversion of marijuana during and after that transition and to ensure production ceases at these locations,” the email reads.

The briefing note was also reviewed by British Columbia Civil Liberties Association policy director Micheal Vonn. In a telephone interview, she told the Straight that despite the extent to which the report has been censored, there’s plenty left there that’s cause for alarm.

“We have the Ministry of Justice of British Columbia claiming that it has legitimate concerns with Health Canada and refusing to disclose those to the public,” Vonn explained. “What is left in this document looks rather like the Ministry of Justice of British Columbia is itching to get into a witch hunt against disabled people.”

She argued that the province should be assisting sick people through a regulatory change instead of helping criminalize access to a substance used to manage health conditions.

“It is dismaying, to say the least, that the Ministry of Justice policing and security branch appears to be advocating for Health Canada to disclose patient lists in order to essentially expedite the horror show that is coming down the pipe for people who require these medications,” Vonn said.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
Why is this government so determined to focus on marijuana? For the love of God, there are kids killing themselves because of bullying on social media, there are numerous other crimes and abuses being leveled at the population for which the government and police do nothing. My friend had his boat stolen and called the police right away. They didn't come for hours and he was told they couldn't do anything, while if they would have come when he called, they might have been able to find the guy towing the boat down the street at 2 am. But, NO, lets use money and resources harassing sick people regarding a drug that's less harmful than alcohol because it's against our conservative morals! IDIOTS!!
Rating: +43
Cons are not for jobs
The feds are killing small business, JOBS that are done by urban agricultural specialists, infrastructure that took some time to establish as a result of the Cons' weird & perverted ideas about compassion and pain relief. They want to close mom & pop shops set up to help fellow citizens and kill all the spin off jobs that have been created as a result. There is no way people are going to want to order their weed through the mail from someone they may not trust, such a stupid solution. Dear Disgusted, you have hit the nail on the head! IDIOTS!! We should be promoting local business as opposed to stopping it. Revenues would stay local instead of going to companies that have done a less than stellar job (we all know which company THAT one is).
What's the latest US headline? $5 million in sales in the first week...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/marijuana-sales-colorado_n_4552...

Harper & Co. should step down as they continue to bungle, bungle, bungle...
Rating: +40
Wow, never thought I'd see the day when Americans were laughing at US for our police state tactics.
Rating: +37
Johnny Wishbone
A classic bait and switch tactic. Dreadful and clearly been done by design.
Rating: +30
Knock on my door as long as you want, but they need a Warrent to come in will there be any Judges In Canada that will issue one on a person that doesn't even have a parking ticket? this pratice can not be good in a election year.
Rating: +8
Really? The cops NOW want to busy themselves with chasing down SICK PATIENTS, all because Health Canada never saw fit to fulfill their mandate of 'inspections' in the first place with MMAR? Sure, blame the patients for 'diversion' of a plant that heals and has never killed one soul in 5,000 yrs of use. LOW HANGING FRUIT for lazy cops that just can't seem to do their REAL JOB and search and catch VIOLENT CRIMINALS.
Rating: +13
Now WHO thought it was a good idea to tell the State that you frequently use an illegal product and how much you use....?

Now can we MOVE ON to legalization, please?

Rating: +5
Kinda smacks of Nazi Germany having the Jewish population in the mid 1930's register with local government to insure their own protection. But in this case exploiting the greed associated with the business was a brilliant tactic by Stephen. April first. Licensed fools day.
Rating: -3
David Stewart
Watch the CONServatives double down on prohibition as we witness its death throes and theirs. Prime Minister Trudeau will step in and fix the mess while the CPC squirms!

Squirm CPC squirm!
Rating: +13
Ya seems really funny this crap all my American friends are having a field day laughing at us and making fun of us we look like the world stage clowns
Rating: -2
David Lynn Courtney
Where is all the evidence that all these houses burned down across the Country in the first place. If that is really the concern then why is Harper attacking people who grow outdoors? There are no stated concerns with growing outdoors? It is a witch hunt and has been from the very beginning orchestrated by a bunch of dishonest professionals with Precambrian attitudes. You can be sure the police will come knocking and they will use the old excuse "I smelled Marihuana" to kick down your door, assault you, scare your children and destroy your personal property. Maybe they will even play a little S&M with you to find out where you got the Marijuana that they state obviously is not medical marihuana. That is the way the police have always conducted there business so why would it change now? This has gone well beyond a fight for disabled people to get the medicine they need. It is an attack on everyone's rights as a Canadian.
Rating: +7
Admiral Benbow
Why are tax payers funding these campaigns against people with chronic illness who are trying to produce medicine to maintain their health?
Rating: +3
anon a must. fuk the G
dont agree, just dont comply. fuk athority love and treat ppl how you wanna be treated. dont pay tax, dont fund them. starve the corupt assholes out. iv left the system for the most part.
Rating: -1
Mad in PG
My cost to grow is 50.00 to 60.00 per ounce, medical buds will cost $11.00 per gram, $308.00 per ounce + taxes + shipping is about 360.00 per ounce...
I CANNOT AFFORD THIS, its travesty that this government of the day is going backwards in time with its views on marijuana.. Moving forward, hopefully this whole mess can be tied up in the courts somehow. 2015 Trudeau looks awfully good..
Rating: +4
I myself am feeling pretty darned betrayed not being able to open my window at night due to the wretched stench of cannabis hour after hour in my own home, after being told that its "medicine". Ultimately, this is karma for all those pot smokers/growers who did a little "ha ha you can't touch me it's legal dance" to their neighbors who complained.
Rating: -10
David Stewart
I love how the CONServatives use the old reefer madness spelling 'Marihuana', completely out of touch with reality.
Sit back and enjoy watching the sea change death throes of prohibition AND the CPC during the next three years.
Rating: +1
Arm chair spectator
From a legal perspective, under the federal Freedom of Information legislation Health Canada collected information about growers and patients for a particular purpose (ie. issuing licenses). FOI legislation doesn't usually permit disclosure for other reasons, Ie. provincial/RCMP police forces going on fishing expeditions and targeting people who have not committed a crime, since all parties legally obtained consent to grow, or use medicinal marijuana while that policy was in force.

Seriously, if Washington State & Colorado (and the other states contemplating) can legalize then what the hell are we doing here? It's just ridiculous. If one were a conspiracy theorist one could be forgiven for thinking that Canadian governments are quite interested in protecting the status quo of black market economies and lots of profits for organized crime to move around. Something doesn't smell right about all of this.
Rating: +4
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