March 2016 NORML Canada Newsletter
Canadian Federal Government Has Chosen Not to Appeal Allard Ruling
The Federal Government has chosen not to appeal the ruling in favour of patients to grow their own medical marijuana in Canada.
“We will respect the decision of the court,” said Health Minister Jane Philpott.
Last month, Justice Phelan of the Federal court ruled that the medical marijuana regulations introduced by Harper’s conservative Government requiring patients to obtain medical marijuana from private licensed producers was unconstitutional.
The newly elected liberal Government showed no signs of wanting to defend these regulations.
The government was given six months to amend the current Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) though it is possible it could ask for an extension of the mid-July deadline to impose new rules.
The medical marijuana community is very optimistic after this ruling. The hope is that this victory could help revamp the medical marijuana system in Canada, and ensure better access to medical marijuana as well as expand the right to grow for other patients.
April 22, 2016: Court to Decide if Growers Can Move Their Gardens
After the spectacular victory for patients in Allard, NORML Canada’s founder and President John Conroy, and NORML Canada’s Pacific Regional Director Kirk Tousaw, will return to court before Mr. Justice Phelan in Vancouver to ask him to reconsider and change his final order (pending the new regulations from the Federal government).
Conroy and Tousaw will be asking Justice Phelan to take into account the following issues:
Justice Phelan ordered the continuation of the injunction made by Justice Manson on March 21, 2014 until a further Order of the court. Conroy argues that Justice Phelan may have accidentally overlooked his goal of ensuring that all medically approved patients are covered by interim relief, and not merely those covered by the past injunction.
In addition, he made no provision for changes in addresses of production or storage sites pending the new regulations, nor did he make any adjustments or clarifications with respect to the terms of the injunction as they relate to the limitation to “dried marihuana” and the 150 g limit.
Furthermore, no reference was made to the “dried marihuana” limitation in the Narcotic Control Regulation section 53 which only exempts the MMPR, not the MMAR (of course Smith addressed the MMAR).
With that said: Canadian patients and growers should keep their eyes peeled for developments this April, and NORML Canada encourages all members of the cannabis community to stay tuned to both www.norml.ca and www.johnconroy.com for updates on this important case.
Ontario Liberals Attack Cannabis Patients
Last year the Wynne government attempted to pass a law strengthening tobacco restrictions by restricting vaping and e-cigarettes. During the initial consultations, the implications on medical cannabis patients were brought to the government’s attention. As a result, the government made an exemption for medical cannabis.
A year later and here we are again.
According to the Ministry of Health and Long term Care, “Ontario is proposing to strengthen its smoking laws to better protect people from second-hand smoke, whether from a tobacco product or medical marijuana.”
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is vowing to “prohibit the use of e-cigarettes and the smoking and vaping of medical marijuana in all enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces, and other specified outdoor areas”.
When was the last time you witnessed a cancer patient spark a joint at a restaurant? Or maybe a chronic pain sufferer vaping at an elementary school playground? Exactly, you have not. The government must stop making laws to protect our children from problems that do not exist.
The “solutions” are causing problems.
If passed Ontario’s many cannabis vapour lounges would need to close their doors for good. For years vapour lounges have provided a safe place for cannabis patients to medicate without prejudice and away from children and the public at large. The impact may not stop there, if medical cannabis is equal to tobacco then all vaporizers and smoking devices are potentially falling under the Smoke Free Ontario Act and head shops will not able to display, demonstrate or recommend devices. This would have significant impact on patients seeking alternative options to big pharma and this would severely affect businesses as has been seen in Quebec with their version of this law passed last year.
This all started off with the Healthier Choices Act. For the cannabis community, it means we will be forced to smoke joints on the sidewalk, 9 metres from any doors, instead of vaporizing in vapour lounges. To buy smoking devices we may need to see them one cabinet at a time with all displays being covered up and being served by a representative who cannot recommend or directly answer questions about the products. The same could be true for medical cannabis dispensaries, prohibiting cannabis products from being displayed or advised on by staff.
It’s not law yet, things can still be done to save Ontario’s lounges and head shops. Take action! Help by supporting the group spearheading the fight: cannabizassociation.ca. If you are an Ontario resident, let your MPP know that cannabis is not the same as tobacco.
No Mention of Marijuana Legalization in the 2016 Federal Budget
This past March 22nd, the Liberal government released its annual budget and for many it would have been an opportunity to learn about how the government plans to allocate resources towards the legalization of marijuana.
However, and despite being a key platform of the Liberal campaign, many Canadians were left disappointed with the fact that there were no references to marijuana law reform in the federal budget.
While it is reasonable that the government should be focused on a health-based approach, rather than viewing it solely as a source of tax revenue, there is no reason why Canadians should get criminal records now for small amounts of marijuana possession, or for using the substance, when the government has indicated that they want to move in a different direction.
NORML Canada publicly advocated for immediately ending existing prosecutions for cannabis offences in its Open Letter to the Senate Liberal Caucus dated February 19, 2016. Learn more at www.norml.ca.
NORML Canada’s April 17th Fundraiser
Despite our newly elected government’s promise to legalize cannabis, they continue to arrest Canadians for cannabis-related offences. In fact, since October 2015 there have been over 20, 000 cannabis-related arrests in Canada. Many Canadians are facing mandatory minimum sentences for a substance that will soon be legal, and should never have been illegal in the first place. With the absence of proper transitional regulations, we fear that the number of arrests will continue to climb in Canada.
On Sunday, April 17th, NORML Canada will be hosting a fundraising initiative, in support of those who have been affected by Canada’s unjust cannabis laws. Featuring a solid line up of performers and speakers, the event will take place at The Underground Cafe and Social Club 668 Queen St E, Toronto. Sponsors include Flavour Savers, Barc’s Budz & Bites (The Danforth Compassion Clinic) SKUNK Magazine, The HotBox Cafe and Medilounge, Higher Purpose Bakery, The Baked Bakers, Dovercourt Park Bakery, Puff Mama and Charlene Freedom, just to name a few. More details can be found on our Facebook event page: norml.ca/event/facebook-an-fundraiser.
Annual Worldwide 420 Events
Annual worldwide 420 (April 20) events range from marches, protests, and civil disobedience, to celebrations and commemorations for the millions of victims of the decades old drug war. Find your nearest event and participate!