From being way behind the United States in terms of medical cannabis access, Canada has surpassed its neighbour. Now, amid complaints from canna-business, patients will be allowed to grow their own cannabis at home.
In an additional advance, cannabis oil and herbal cannabis sold to patients can now be tested at laboratories, enabling patients to evaluate product safety more effectively. The new regulations will come into effect towards the end of August and do not apply to recreational cannabis which remains technically illegal.
The Huffington Post sarcastically comments on the harsh legal restrictions imposed on cannabis in certain US states, citing an arrest rate of one every 42 seconds to one minute, contrasting this with Canada’s more permissive attitude towards the herb. According to Huffington post, Cannabis users may face up to five years in prison, ruining lives and profiting the private prisons.
Rigorous testing for contaminants
Apart from heeding calls for patients to be allowed to cultivate a limited number of plants, the new laws will allow for testing of cannabis at laboratories amid fears that medical cannabis sold at one of the many illegal dispensaries may be contaminated with pesticides or other harmful residues. This moves follows a report by the Globe and Mail in which cannabis samples from nine unregulated dispensaries were tested. Three of the samples contained dangerous contaminants including harmful fungal toxins.
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Know your cannabinoid ratios
Medical cannabis users generally find a specific ratio of CBD to THC that they feel works for them, but without testing, they are unable to know what they are receiving. Apart from testing for harmful substances, the laboratory tests will supply this information, allowing patients to check the contents of cannabis they purchase or grow themselves.
Until now, labs have not been allowed to test samples other than those from registered growers, and the Globe and Mail was asked not to identify the laboratory that assisted reporters with their investigation.
Dispensary cannabis oil and herbal cannabis may still be dangerous
Health Canada warns that many illegal dispensaries openly trading in Canadian cities do not obtain their stock from licensed growers. Merely seeing a label that seems to indicate the product has been tested is no guarantee of its safety. The organization urges patients to choose licensed suppliers that are compliant with Health Canada regulations.
Fears over five plants ruling
Opponents of the move are concerned that the five indoor-grown plants per patient will boost organized crime and affect neighbourhood security. There are also fears of an increase in the frequency of fires and explosions caused by dangerous home cannabis oil extraction process. Cannabis producers have expressed concern that the ruling is a “step backwards” for those seeking safe access, saying that many patients will now use home-grown cannabis without determining its medical properties.
An evolving situation
Canada is breaking new ground with its medical cannabis rules and forthcoming legalisation of recreational cannabis. It is encouraging to see that efforts are being made to ensure safe access, and despite criticisms, the legislative environment surrounding legal cannabis oil and marijuana continues to evolve.