Canada Introduces New Rules for Medical Pot

Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2013, By Nirmala Menon

The Canadian government is getting out of the medical marijuana business. And it’s barring users from growing it themselves.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who introduced new regulations for medical pot Monday, said Ottawa believes access must be provided in a “controlled fashion in order to protect public safety.”

Her ministry said the number of people authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes in Canada has swelled to more than 30,000 from under 500 when the program was introduced in 2001, and this has led to “unintended consequences for public health, safety and security.”

Under the new rules, authorized users can no longer grow pot in their homes, and the government will no longer produce and distribute medical marijuana.

The Medical Cannabis Access Society slammed the move as “crime policy masquerading as health policy.” Adam Greenblatt, executive director of the Montreal-based non-profit dispensary, said the new rules will hinder “reasonable access” for patients.

“The pretext of protecting public safety is being grossly exaggerated and unfairly paints all patients as criminals,” Mr. Greenblatt said in a statement.

But Ottawa said the rules aim to treat marijuana as much as possible like other narcotics used for medical purposes, and will provide authorized users access to “quality-controlled marijuana” which is “produced under secure and sanitary conditions.”

Patients with signed documents from health-care practitioners will be able to purchase the amounts they need directly from a licensed producer approved by the government.

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