B.C. government and fed disagree on the Conservatives' new rules for medicinal marijuana

The province and Ottawa appear to be in a bit of a disagreement over new regulations concerning medicinal marijuana scheduled to take effect April 1, 2014.

According to a May 2013 “issue note” the Straight obtained through a freedom of information request, the B.C. Ministry of Health has “strongly objected” to some of the changes that the federal government is implementing.

With the switch from the old regulations to the Conservatives’ new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR), licence holders will only be allowed to purchase dried cannabis via mail order from a small number of large-scale producers. That will rescind more than 11,500 British Columbians’ licences to grow medicinal marijuana and call into question the future of storefront dispensaries.

According to the issue note, which is dated May 2013, the B.C. Health Ministry opposed certain provisions of the new rules in talks with Health Canada held in September 2011 and again in February 2012.

Specifically, the province expressed concerns regarding the MMPR only providing for the selling of dried marijuana (excluding options such as edibles), and that price increases will likely follow the discontinuation of personal production licences. “Affordability could be a challenge for low income patients”, the memo states.

The B.C. Health Ministry also described as “very concerning” Health Canada’s plans to allow medical practitioners to sell cannabis, which the province suggested could create a potential conflict of interest for health professionals.

“No rationale for this was provided and, as the plan is for patients to be able to obtain cannabis directly by mail, or by delivery to their health care practitioner’s office, it seems to be unnecessary and potentially problematic to allow health care practitioners to sell the products as well,” the note continues.

The document adds that this concern for potential conflicts of interest is shared by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons and the B.C. College of Registered Nurses.

The issue note states that the federal government had not responded to the province’s feedback.

Certain sections of the document were redacted pursuant to Section 16 of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act, which states that information can be withheld if disclosure is deemed “harmful to intergovernmental relations and negotiations”.

Both Health Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Health declined to make representatives available for interviews on the topic of medicinal marijuana.

In an email to the Straight, B.C. Health Ministry spokesperson Ryan Jabs wrote that Health Canada contacted the province but he declined to provide any specific information.

On October 2, the Straight reported that municipal officials are also unenthusiastic about Ottawa’s new plans for the regulation of medicinal marijuana. That story quoted Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang explaining that medicinal marijuana hasn’t registered as a problem for the city.

“If there has not been an issue with a particular supplier or grower, it doesn’t concern me,” Jang said.

You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.



Bruce Dean

Oct 4, 2013 at 1:56pm

I spoke with the U.S. Consulate, and they said it should be fairly easy for me to return to the States because I used to have Permanent Resident Alien Status.
...if Harper has his way with my weed, I'm outta here - along with a lot of marijuana tourism dollars.
(I can't afford Harper's cut of my weed.)

Federal EAP at work

Oct 5, 2013 at 8:36am

10,000 loose income and increase personal medical costs while 100 corporate executives get millions with a couple dozen minimum wage temporary foreign workers.

Will there be any natural, organic fertilizers in a corporate farm. I doubt it. Chemicals are cheaper.


Oct 5, 2013 at 8:54am

^^^ Good, do ahead and leave, do you think that we'll be missing you? hey bud, need a ride to the border in the back of my truck?

also a reason for centralizing these "legal" grow ops is to get rid of the current ones which produce 3 times as much drugs as they're supposed to, then sell the other 2/3 onto the streets.

under the current regulations municipalities are left in the dark with where these operations exist, its totally bizarre!

missed opportunity

Oct 5, 2013 at 10:13am

taking the business away from the mom & pop growers and dispensaries will greatly affect the local economies. the feds don't have the first clue. dispensaries offer the opportunity to physically inspect the product prior to purchase. can you do that by online or phone prior to receiving the order? nope. can these new companies offer the current & ever-expanding range of product and replicate the current growing environment of a user's particular choice of weed? VERY not likely. BC government needs to stand up and fight this. it's a no brainer. wouldn't have to explore LNG or any other destructive resource extraction market. BC could become a leader in true GREEN technology - urban agriculture. cannabis/hemp products...

Jack Draak

Oct 5, 2013 at 4:37pm

1) Dispensaries have *never* been "legal" (i.e. codified in law), however the courts have stipulated that all Canadians deserve "reasonable access". Until a better model is up and running, dispensaries play a critical role in ensuring access for thousands of users.

2) Since we're bringing up the courts.... the BC courts have also deemed Health Canada guidelines to be null and void insofar as they stipulate dried herb only (no concentrates, edibles, etc.) Given that the revised MMPR also neglects to provide legislative allowance for said, it is once again, null and void.


Oct 5, 2013 at 9:45pm

guess what? Once they start growing it, they are going to sell it in WalMart so that everyone gets their share for a really good price and then they are going to have everyone stoned, stupid and at home on their couch, they will be able to put several families in one house as no one will care as they are stoned. The numbers of death by pancreatitus is going to rise as smoking pot leads to the munchies as it stimulates the pancreas to make more insulin - then maybe they will sell it in packs like Smores. marshmallows, graham wafers and chocolate bars. One of the Marx brothers, Guido, Groucho or Karl said that Religion was the opiate of the masses. Things have come a long way. After religion then it was television, then computers and now POT. Keep em stoned and stupid. You think you might have fibromyalgia - have a toke, you think you hurt somewhere - have a toke, getting older and depressed - have a toke. don't have a job - have a toke. move over, shut up, have a toke, have a cookie.... now aren't you feeling better you schmuck.

Hello black market

Oct 5, 2013 at 10:59pm

Less people producing legal weed means that more weed being produced illegally on the black market. This will actually help those that are growing illegally again. Drive the price up per pound and put more money in the coffers of the local economies. The big companies will not be able to survive because one. they don't have access to the street market, and two most of them will not be able to offer the variety. Prairie Plant systems is a total joke. No patient in their right mind is going to want to purchase the crap they produce for 10 bucks a gram when people can do it themselves for 2 bucks a gram. But Harper did it right for his buddies because he will be able to put more of these sick people in prison where they can die in some shit hole for none violent crimes. That way all the rapists and violent criminals can get away with the crimes they commit. Mandatory minimums are big corp business. Who by the way votes in Stephen Harper...I would really like to meet one of these jackasses one day.

buddy boy

Oct 6, 2013 at 9:21am

just trying to fill their prisons with the great unwashed masses


Oct 6, 2013 at 5:07pm

Designed to fail... your weed is in the mail


Oct 10, 2013 at 1:09pm

This is exactly why all British Columbians, including ministry employees and elected officials, should get out and sign the Sensible BC petition.