Medical marijuana derives from the Cannabis Sativa species of the cannabis plant. Hemp and marijuana both come from the same species of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is distinguished from hemp by its higher content of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the cannabinoid which provides the psychoactive properties responsible for the “stoned” feeling. A marijuana plant has .5 to 30% THC whereas a hemp plant has less than .3%.
Medical Marijuana Usage in Canada:
Research shows that marijuana may alleviate inflammation and pain and relieve the symptoms and even slow the progression of autoimmune disorders, arthritis, cancer, MS, and others. Estimates are that over 420.000 Canadians use marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, only about 80,000 of those individuals have prescriptions from qualified physicians.
Current Laws Involving Marijuana:
Medical marijuana is legal throughout Canada with a prescription. Until recently the Marijuana for Medical Purposes law or MMPR mandated the 80,000 prescription holders must receive their medicine by mail order. However, the passage of Medical Marijuana Access Regulation or MMAR allows about 30,000 of the patients to grow their marijuana. Of course, many of these individuals do not have the land or physical capability of growing the plants, so they are allowed to have them produced by other persons. Typically these individuals grow far more from the plants allowed than needed by the patient. The surplus of the crop is often sold to dispensaries.
The dispensary has provided individuals a place where they can compare products and ask questions. There are hundreds of cannabis dispensaries in the metropolitan areas of Canada with dozens more planned.
Opponents of these establishments argue they are not legal, do not always follow the city’s licensure agreements, and are operating for the purpose of making a profit and not for the good of the patient.
On June 23, 2016, four dispensaries were raided in Toronto, resulting in 23 people facing charges, over $289,000 worth of marijuana confiscated and more than $29,000 in profits recovered.
Although the dispensaries are technically illegal, the police are typically only called in when there are several of complaints. The raids took place after a CBS reporter was easily able to obtain marijuana without a prescription.
The raids forced other dispensaries to shut their doors leaving many patients to delay their treatments and look elsewhere. There are those who claim the raids, arrests and court time are a huge waste of tax-payers money. The date to review the case has been delayed until October of 2016.
Future of Legalization:
Quite possibly these types of raids may find their place in history books similarly to that of Prohibition in the United States. Legislation to outright legalize marijuana is set to be introduced in the spring of 2017 and has the approval of both Prime Minister Trudeau and Health Minister Philpott.