Canadians are allowed to smoke pot for medicinal purposes, which is one big green step in the right direction. Here are another top five ways Canada is improving its cannabis industry.
1. Making Medical Marijuana Legal in the First Place
The laws surrounding legal marijuana use aren’t as clear cut as most Canadian users would like but at least they have them. The fact that the Canadian government recognizes the medicinal benefits of marijuana in its law books is a big deal. Since 2001, the Canadian government has said doctors can prescribe marijuana to their patients if they “feel comfortable with it.” Technically, the drug is considered illegal, but it is okay for doctors to prescribe it to patients that fall into the right chronic illness category.
2. Establishing a Hemp Industry
Currently, it is legal in Canada to produce seeds, grains and fibers for commercial hemp (cannabis stativa) production. It has been legal to produce hemp in Canada since 1998. The industry is closely regulated with trace THC levels measured and the location of hemp farms monitored. Canadian hemp production increased ten-fold between 2003 and 2013. By legalizing hemp, Canada illustrates the many diverse uses of the marijuana plant, laying a credible foundation for use of the plant at higher THC levels. Not to mention legalizing a profitable crop for Canada’s farmers.
3. Increasing the Number of Available Strains
Despite some thinking that there is not enough information about the long term effects of marijuana, research has shown that different strains produce different results for users. Access to diverse and quality strains is a must if the medical marijuana industry is going to move forward. In June of 2013, Canada’s new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations Act or MMPR (yes, that’s how they spell marijuana in Canada) increased the number of available strains to qualified users. Specific strains aren’t mentioned in the rule book, but diversity is a great way to help more folks suffering from chronic conditions.
4. Legalizing Edibles
In June of 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court determined that making non-dried forms of cannabis illegal was “arbitrary” and not in line with the “principles of fundamental justice.” This change in the law means that pot brownies, marijuana infused tea and other edibles are now legal. This provides medical marijuana patients a number of ways to consume their medicine. For those Canadians that prefer not to smoke, this latest ruling couldn’t come soon enough.
5. Attempting to Normalize the Medical Marijuana Industry
Vancouver became the first Canadian town to issue municipal licenses to marijuana dispensaries in its jurisdiction this past June. Some, namely the conservative branch of the Canadian government and health authorities, are not too happy with Vancouver’s decision. They believe by regulating the cannabis dispensaries, Vancouver is legitimizing an industry they aren’t sure should exist in the first place. Vancouverites on the other hand, view regulation as a way to get a handle on a growing industry that will exists whether it’s legal or not.
So Canada’s medical marijuana industry is far from perfect and disgruntled users, growers and distributors abound. But the fact that I can write “Canada’s medical marijuana industry” means that perspective is shifting on the North American continent.
In short - America, there is hope.