Canada to snuff out medical marijuana production in homes

Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:53pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada, a pioneer in the use of medical marijuana, will take legal production out of private homes next year as it seeks to address more than a decade of neighborhood spats and criminal activity.

Health Canada will also snuff out its own production, which has been another legal source of the drug, and leave supplies solely to licensed growers in the private sector.

More than 30,000 people in Canada are legally authorized to use marijuana, up from around 500 in 2001 when Canada became the first country to allow terminally ill patients to grow and smoke their own marijuana.

Canada's marijuana medical access program also included a state-managed grow-op in a disused zinc mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba, although users complained the quality did not match that from private suppliers.

"There's far too much potential and actual abuse within the current scheme," said Staff Inspector Randy Franks of the Toronto Police Service drug squad, adding that police do not have access to addresses of approved sites in private homes.

"These home-grown operations are able to produce far more than they need and they have to do something with it, so they sell it mainstream."

The new regulations took effect on Monday, but the old rules will run concurrently until March 31, 2014, to allow time for Ottawa to license new growers, said Jeannine Ritchot, director of medical marijuana regulatory reform for Health Canada.

The changes will place growing sites under greater scrutiny, through inspections, security measures and accounting of production volumes.   Continued...

 
Marijuana is pictured for sale during the annual 4/20 day, which promotes the use of marijuana, in Vancouver, British Columbia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Ben Nelms