Liberal health minister Jane Philpott said the government will not appeal the Allard decision that found the MMPR violated medical cannabis patients’ constitutional rights. The deadline for appeal was today.
“We will respect the decision of the federal court and as such we are now in a situation where we have responsibility to address the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations and they will be amended accordingly in order to address the concerns of the court,” Philpott said.
Executive Director of Cannabis Growers of Cannabis Ian Dawkins said he wasn’t surprised but the government’s decision not to appeal.
“The government has signalled pretty clearly that they’re going pivot from Allard into some kind of review of cannabis regulation generally,” Dawkins said. “I think they’re probably going take the court’s six-month timeline and hopefully integrate that into their thinking about legalization more generally and will hurry up and get on with it.”
Lawyer John Conroy, who represented cannabis patients in the case, said he was glad the government decided to move on from the appeal.
“It means they accept the decision of Mr. Justice Phelan and that they will make some changes within the next six months,” Conroy said.
The minister didn’t offer any idea what new regulations the government will put into place or timelines for the process, besides being in place by the mandated deadline of Aug. 24, 2016.
Dawkins said he’d like to see a fresh start from the government, and hopes they’ll do away with the “non-sensical” legislation from the Harper government.
Conroy said, in order to provide reasonable access to patients, he’d like the government to look at not only the LP MMPR process, but dispensaries across the country.
“The dispensary issue is at the heart of it, but also the LP process isn’t working,” Conroy said. “They need to fix that, they need to, in my opinion, expand it greatly — allow for more manufacturers, including what I’m calling craft growers, small growers – let the market decide what’s what.
After being given approval to proceed by the previous government, Conroy said many licensed producers have put in money and time into building facilities and have now “been sitting there not getting an answer from the government.”
The near 30,000 medical patients covered under the previous injunction will be able to continue growing their own medicine until the government creates new regulations in August, but Philpott wouldn’t say if they would be able to continue past that point.
Dawkins said, past the six-month window, he’s unsure what restrictions the government will impose on medical patients currently able to grow their own medicine.
“I think we’re definitely concerned that the government isn’t really been communicating very much with the medical cannabis community about what their intentions are,” he said. “So we’re trying to get a foot in the door with them and are communicating as a stakeholder about the needs as the MMAR.”
“Until such time as the amendments are put in place, the [MMPR] will remain in effect,” she said. “If people have an injunction that allows them to grow for medical purposes, those with an injunction will continue to be able to use that. Otherwise the licensed producers are the only organizations allowed to produce medical marijuana under these regulations.”
Conroy said, in his opinion, there’s room for all types of growers in the new framework.
“We need to have large-scale manufacturers, small manufactures — the works,” he said. “They need to have independent retail dispensaries in a medical context, as well as allowing people to grow for themselves, as well as having a caregiver do so for them and, when we have all that in place, we will have reasonable access.”
Philpott said the government is currently moving forward with legalization of recreational cannabis.
“In the near future, a task force will be established that will consult broadly with experts in public health, substance abuse and law enforcement in order to examine and report on all of the issues related to legalization,” the minister said, in a statement.
The statement leaves out mention of working with members of the cannabis community, which Dawkins said he hopes the government will allow for to feedback from the patients and growers currently involved and impacted by any regulations coming forward.