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COLUMN: Medical pot plan: Where confusion reigns
It’s difficult to imagine a more botched rollout than the policies and procedures surrounding the use of medical marijuana in Canada.
For years, municipal governments like those in Chilliwack and elsewhere in Metro Vancouver have sought clarity on an edict, set down not by elected officials, but by the courts.
That decision — that the federal government must allow limited access to marijuana for medical purposes — has garnered nothing but confusion, regulator chaos and a virtual cottage industry of illegal activity.
The federal government’s recent attempt to patch the gaping holes left in the original “plan” is off the rails again following a recent Supreme Court of Canada injunction.
That injunction is now being appealed by the federal government as it prepares to battle a constitutional challenge.
Consequently, people who had been allowed to grow their own marijuana, but were told to stop by April 1, have no idea if, or for how long, they can produce their own drug.
And the municipal governments, police and public safety officials expected to enforce or monitor these operations are once again scrambling.
But if it’s a mess, it’s nothing new.
Ever since the courts allowed the personal cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes, there has been confusion.
Federal privacy laws prevented local governments from knowing where these cottage pot farms existed. They could be in the neighbour’s house or in an unused garage.
That lack of clarity and accountability opened the system to abuse. Growers licensed to produce a specific amount for themselves could, with little oversight, produce extra to offset their costs.
A legal grow op licensed for 74 plants in Cultus Lake, for example, was found to have 450 plants when it was busted a few years ago, police say.
The new federal regulations that were to come into effect recently were supposed to change that.
But once again, confusion prevails.
That uncertainty helps no one. It fails the communities in which these lucrative and potentially illegal operations exist, and it fails the people who have come to count on the relief medical marijuana provides.
Surely we can do better.
Greg Knill is editor of The Chilliwack Progress, a Black Press Community News Media sister newspaper of The Tri-City News.