Canadian Cannabis Laws Are Changing Rapidly, ICBC Will Have the Latest


The cannabis community has been making great strides across the globe, and Canada is no different. In fact, the entire marijuana movement cheered and got another shot in the arm when the Liberal Party, with cannabis legalization as part of its platform, took over the Canadian government in a landslide. With Justin Trudeau leading the way, who unlike the next President of the United States, has used cannabis, the future is certainly bright for the Canadian cannabis community. However, with change comes obstacles and new regulations and Canadian cannabis laws are changing rapidly and the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) on October 13-14 in Vancouver, British Columbia, will have the latest.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Trudeau has promised to make recreational marijuana legal in Canada as soon as next year, bypassing the nation’s strict medical marijuana regulations. Under the latest rules for medical use, announced last week, patients must be registered, have a prescription and obtain their supplies only by mail from a government-licensed producer or by growing a limited amount privately.

Impatient to test the shifting political boundaries, entrepreneurs have opened hundreds of illicit dispensaries across Canada, selling products like organic marijuana buds and potent cannabis concentrates, while local governments and the police have tended to look the other way.

The marijuana boom they hope for has yet to materialize, though the Canadian government is now doing preliminary work on a measure to govern recreational use.

And as reported on August 11th, Health Canada announced new changes to the law, some good, such as allowing home cultivation, but some existing dispensaries are left in a “gray area.” Also, more changes are on the horizon:

Health Canada did say they are “committed to studying other models” of marijuana distribution so patients can have access, but they stopped short of endorsing any dispensary scenario for now. In that respect, Health Canada is regurgitating what the feds have already stated — let local law enforcement enforce the “laws.”

An interesting and rather cryptic message, Health Canada revealed that they are exploring other models such as pharmacy distribution. It’s no secret that Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart, has been publicly and privately lobbying the government to be the retail option of choice.

The final part of today’s announcement was to let Canadians know that this is a temporary solution and shouldn’t be interpreted as the long-term plan for both medical and recreational marijuana in Canada. That announcement will still come next spring according to schedule.

The upcoming ICBC will help unpack the current status of Canadian regulations while also providing a preview of where the law is headed. Additionally, as always at the ICBC, there will be a strong focus on activism, so attendees will get some insight into how to protect the rights of patients as well as implement sound, fair business regulations for the burgeoning industry. Hope to see you there!

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.