Issues At The Centre Of Medicinal Marijuana Debate

Health Canada says it’s worried the old system, in which medicinal marijuana growers were producing their own drug, posed health and safety risks. In a court filing for the B.C. case, Jeannine Ritchot, former director of medical marijuana reform, cited numerous concerns about health and safety threats posed by the production of cannabis in private dwellings. Fire and mould were two of the concerns listed, as well as violence, the presence of firearms, the illegal sale of marijuana and others.

John Conroy believes Health Canada’s concerns are not factually supported. Conroy is the B.C. lawyer who won the injunction against Health Canada’s ruling last month. “They haven’t been able to give us a single statistic of a single person who has had a mould problem in a medical grow,” Conroy said, adding that fire is another unfounded concern. “They had one, maybe two fires in medical grows in 13 years.”

Crime and abuse of the original regulations

Health Canada said law enforcement has raised concerns that the previous system is vulnerable to abuse, “including criminal involvement and diversion to the illicit market,” as a result of residential growing activities. In her affidavit, Ritchot includes a complaint from a B.C. district saying: “The extensive lack of regard and abuse of the (former) regulations makes a mockery of the federal government’s process, but more importantly presents a safety risk to neighbouring residents and businesses as well as emergency response officials.”

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