January 22, 2016, Vancouver, BC – The Cannabis Growers of Canada, an industry association representing the interests of over 35,000 cannabis growers under the old Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR), is condemning the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA) and its members for their baseless accusations and calls for violence against medical cannabis growers and dispensaries. The CMCIA is an association of companies licensed to grow cannabis under the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
On March 21, 2014, a federal judge ruled that provisions in the MMPR were unconstitutional and would inflict “irreparable harm” upon approved patients relying on cannabis. As caretakers of these patients since the introduction of the MMAR back in 2001, the CGC finds the actions of CMCIA and its members unconscionable.
In the ruling, it was determined that the MMPR system was designed to raise the price of medicinal cannabis, imposing an additional cost to patients of $1.7 billion over ten years. Many of these patients are on fixed incomes and either grew their medicine themselves, or relied on an authorized MMAR grower.
These growers, over the last several decades, built the Canadian cannabis industry in to a global powerhouse. Universally recognized for its quality, Canadian cannabis as produced by these MMAR growers is sought after by patients and connoisseurs around the world. The CMCIA’s accusations that this cannabis is of poor quality and dangerous are simply without merit.
Patients and consumers have already decided that the cannabis produced by the MMPR licenced producers (“LP’s”) is severely lacking in quality.
One of the first LP’s, Prairie Plant Systems, irradiated its cannabis prior to shipping. The community found this practice to be unacceptable.
Shortly after the MMPR’s implementation on April 1, 2014 a number of new LP’s faced product recalls:
- April 2014 – Greenleaf Medicinals product was recalled due to “identified issues with processes that affect quality control, good production practices and oversight — this includes residues from use of unregistered pesticides, unsanitary production conditions, concerns with testing standards and/or control of plant materials.” Their license was subsequently revoked.
- August 2014 – Whistler Medical Marijuana product was recalled due to the presence of mould.
- March 2015 – Tilray product was recalled due to the presence of enterobacter.
Further compounding the problems associated with the cannabis produced by LP’s is the fact that they are not allowed to use organic pesticides. Neem oil, favoured for pest control by CGC member growers, is a permitted substance in Canada’s Organic Products Regulations.
Given the above, cannabis produced by LP’s is clearly inferior to what is currently being sold at dispensaries. The CGC cannot recommend LP cannabis under present circumstances to any patient.
Sold to the public as a “free market in cannabis”, the MMPR turned out to be anything but. Over a thousand companies applied for licenses and most were instantly rejected. Hundreds more are now stuck in a regulatory limbo created by Health Canada that has many of these firms contemplating a class-action lawsuit against the government of Canada. One such company, CEN Biotech, even launched a USD $4.8 billion NAFTA claim due to its application being rejected. It should be noted however that CEN was facing accusations of misrepresenting itself to investors.
Such is the result of the MMPR, which encouraged corporate rent-seeking and bad behaviour.
None of this should be construed as any sort of opposition by the CGC to the commercialization of the cannabis industry, it is sorely needed. However the message of the CMCIA and its members is one of monopolization and exploitation, not product quality and certainly not public safety. The CGC will oppose all efforts to cartelize the cannabis industry.
Until the CMCIA and LP’s realize that a multi-billion dollar cannabis industry already exists, and that they’re newcomers to it who must prove their competence, they will continue to be perceived as outsiders and bad actors.