Courtesy of Lift Magazine
A lot happened this year in Canadians cannabis news, from the ruling regarding home production rights in the Allard case in February, to the government’s response in August with new regulations.
The biggest change, of course, is the introduction of the new medical cannabis regulations that re-introduced home-production for medical patients — the Access the Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). This long-expected change, in response to the Allard case which challenged the removal of those home production rights when the MMPR were introduced in 2013, was described by Health Canada as an interim measure, and more changes are expected in the new year, especially regulations for over the counter sales, expected to be conducted through participating, regulated pharmacies.
However, many other key issues have emerged over the past year. Here’s a brief breakdown, in order, of some of these key issues that Lift has covered.
January – Medical Cannabis Still Taxed
In January, a major tax case brought about by a medical cannabis grower and supported by the BC Compassion Club Society (BCCCS), seeking to exempt medical cannabis from GST in British Columbia, was rejected by the Federal Court of Appeals due to the illegality of the cannabis provided through the club. The appeal was in response to a ruling in 2014 (PDF) from the Tax Court of Canada assessing that Gerry Hedges, a grower for the club, pay back taxes on cannabis he grew and sold to the BCCCS.
In response, Hilary Black, the founder of the BCCCS, submitted e-petition 190, calling upon the Minister of Finance to “amend tax legislation to ensure medical cannabis is treated consistently with other medical necessities and is zero-rated, exempt from sales tax”. It has received over 10,000 signatures and, in December, Lloyd Longfield, the Liberal MP for Guelph Ontario, presented the petition to Parliament. In a recent interview, Task Force Vice Chair Dr Marc Ware noted that until cannabis received a Drug Identification Number, the Task Force wouldn’t recommend it be non-taxed.
February – Allard
The Allard trial, which began as an injunction issued by a Federal Court Judge on March 21 2014 before making its way to Federal Court in Vancouver in February, 2015, was concluded in February of this year. Justice Phelan released his ruling on February 28, 2016, finding that the government’s medical access program at the time, the MMPR, violated patients’ Section 7 Charter rights when it removed their right to produce their own cannabis for medical purposes, or assign a designated grower to do so.
By late March the government announced it would not be appealing the court’s ruling. The Crown had one month to appeal this ruling.
The government then announced their response to this ruling in August, when they announced the repeal of the MMPR (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) and their replacement with the ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations).
Protesters outside the court during the Allard trial in 2015 in Vancouver, BC
The ACMPR were announced as an interim measure