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Legal Concerns of Growing Cannabis at Home

Health Canada’s new ACMPR program (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations) allows for authorized patients to grow their own cannabis. The new program is seeing a strong interest from Canadians nationwide.

As of June 1st, 2017, (6,880) Canadians have active registration for designated or personal cultivation production. Essentially, this type of licensing allows an individual or a designated person to obtain seeds, starter and grow materials to cultivate cannabis legally for medical needs. This is not to be confused with the ability to grow 4 plants/dwelling which will come into legality July 1st, 2018.

Individuals who are able to obtain a license will have the ability to grow more than 4 plants based on their prescription needs. As a licensed cultivator, caregiver and educator; this proposal was one item I kept a very close eye on. With LP’s looking to increase their market share in addition to Health Canada’s framework being so strict, I knew that political opinion and controversy wouldn’t be far away.

In October of 2017, I attended a HESA (Standing Committee on Health) reading at Parliament Hill. The cannabis bill C-45 is currently going through the second reading in parliament and has raised a multitude of potential issues from first responders and law enforcement. Such topics regarding personal cultivation, include difficulty to regulate and concerns over safety for both indoor and outdoor personal cultivation.

Through word of mouth, youtube or workshop education, there are many different strategies to create a successful grow. Cultivation requires air, electricity, earth, and water. If not treated properly, the mixture of these elements can cause serious damage to an individual’s home. Outdoor grows can be physically less hazardous BUT if grown with bulk and height in mind could attract unwanted individuals to a prize grow. Theft, inability to regulate and possible exposure to children, has law enforcement and first responders raising concerns.

Health Canada announced close to a 50 Million dollar investment in education, awareness, and surveillance over the next 5 years. Education is a perfect avenue to inform the masses. A focus on basic grow education from Health Canada to the public can offset safety concerns for personal grows. An emphasis on the electricity requirements, best practices to prevent fire hazards and operational setups would be beneficial to the personal cultivators and ease first responders concerns.

I can hear the anti- grow at home supporters shrieking… “won’t anyone think of the children?!?”. It is a fair position since one of the main reasons for cannabis legalization is to reduce usage amongst children and teens. For the sake of argument, let’s turn our focus to very legal home breweries. As per the Ontario Liquor and Gaming Corporation, “You may make beer or wine at home as long as it is only for your personal consumption or to be given away free of charge.”

The unwanted truth is that binge drinking is causing brain damage in our youth while cannabis is a neuroprotectant that has been studied to aid the regeneration of brain cells.

As Bill C-45 makes its way through parliament, the issue of growing at home will be challenged and criticized. It is imperative that science leads our policy making so that our children can REALLY be educated and protected. If Canadians truly want fair and equal access to cannabis than they should have the freedom to grow their own cannabis at home.

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