Monday, March 30, 2015

Canadian medical marijuana rules under fire

Focus: Medical marijuana continues to be source of litigation - Shannon Kari, Law Times:

March 30, 2015 - "There has been one constant since the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the prohibition against possession of marijuana for medical reasons in 2000: the subsequent rules imposed by the federal government have been subject to repeated court challenges.

"The courts have found the regulations that govern medical marijuana to be invalid on more than one occasion and there are two current proceedings before the courts that could again require the federal government to go back to the drawing board.

"A Federal Court judge in British Columbia is presiding over an ongoing challenge to regulations that require those authorized to possess medical marijuana to buy from approved producers in the private sector.

"Late last month, the Supreme Court of Canada reserved its decision in an appeal from British Columbia on whether the rules permit only cannabis in dried form for medical marijuana patients.

"The result is ongoing uncertainty in an area where the government has rarely addressed the complaints of the medical marijuana community without a court challenge. At the same time, it’s a field where a number of private sector investors are eagerly trying to get into what they see as a growth market with even Health Canada officials estimating there could be at least 400,000 legally registered medical users by 2024.

"To add to the complicated legal landscape, a Tax Court judge ruled last year that even approved medical marijuana is subject to the goods and services tax because it’s more like an over-the-counter product than a prescription drug.

"Meanwhile, a new medical marijuana policy adopted earlier this year by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario states that approving cannabis use for a patient is equivalent to a prescription.

"For both people who are registered medical users and individuals and companies seeking to grow cannabis, it’s a confusing time."

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