By Kirsten O’Brien
With the announcement of the legalization of cannabis coming to Canada in the spring of 2017, many are wondering exactly what legalization will look like. This week, we are taking a look at the different aspects the government needs to consider and what legalization might look like next year.
Dispensaries and Licensed Producers
In most major cities across the country, dispensaries have been spreading far and wide. In Toronto ON there has been an explosion of Dispensaries in the downtown core. With the influx of these illegal set ups, many speculate that they are hoping to be “grandfathered in” as the way to access marijuana locally. As this week’s raids of nearly 40 dispensaries in Toronto suggests, the government is not going to make it easy for these outfits to be part of whichever legalization model it eventually proposes.
On the other hand, Licensed Producers are also hoping to have a foot in the recreation market, as they are able to provide Canadians with high quality product. Licensed Producers are also required to follow strict guidelines when cultivating their cannabis, providing medical marijuana patients with added confidence in the strains they are purchasing.
Many are wondering what the medical marijuana system will look like when legalization comes to Canada. One view is that legalization will open doors for medical marijuana patients. There is speculation that more insurance companies will be paying for medical cannabis for patients as it becomes increasingly de-stigmatized and more prescriptions are written. This would help thousands of patients who are currently unable to access medical marijuana on a regular basis due to its cost.
We are currently awaiting the new regulations surrounding medical cannabis patients and growing their own marijuana. Currently, only MMAR patients who had the correct documentation at the time that MMPR was introduced are allowed to grow their own cannabis. With legalization approaching, it is possible that permits to grow cannabis may make a comeback, which many patients are hoping for.
However, growing comes with its own associated risks as well. There are concerns surrounding theft of plants and marijuana, as well as things like mold, disease, and pesticide use if people are going to be allowed to grow themselves. Growing cannabis may be allowed, but there may also be very strict regulations surrounding private cultivation.
Regulating access to cannabis is going to be the biggest challenge that the government has to face. Who will be allowed to buy it? Where will they be allowed to buy it? How much will they be allowed to buy? Currently, medical marijuana prescriptions have strict regulations regarding the amount a patient is allowed to possess at any given time. Recreational users may also be required to apply for a license to possess marijuana after it is legalized in order to protect children and other vulnerable persons from obtaining marijuana.
There is also the question of age. Will the legal age for marijuana be 19 as it is for alcohol? There is also the chance it could be 25 as many studies have shown the THC can have a negative impact on a developing brain. Or will there be no age restriction for purchasing? If there is a restriction on purchasing, age will certainly be a factor in that restriction.
Legalization is a much more complicated issue than simply possession of marijuana. There are many moving parts that make up the new regulations that will be coming next spring. As advocates for legalization celebrate their sizeable victory, they are also preparing for the much larger battle of helping to shape the future of marijuana in Canada.
Interested in obtaining your Medical Marijuana license to start accessing safe, effective medical marijuana? Register today at www.plantsnotpills.ca