Drugs

A Canada Post Strike Could Screw Over Medical Marijuana Patients

Meanwhile advocates are calling for the Toronto dispensary raids to stop.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
June 27, 2016, 3:58pm

Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot

Canada's clusterfuck of a medical marijuana scheme just got a little bit more complicated, with a looming Canada Post strike or lockout threatening to delay mail-ordered weed.

Under Health Canada's Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), medical marijuana patients can only buy medication from licensed producers through the mail. But last week, Canada Post started warning licensed producers that a potential strike or lockout starting July 2 means patients may not get their medication delivered on time.

Advertisement

As a result, Tweed, Canada's largest licensed producer, has already switched couriers.

"We needed to avoid the possibility of any packages getting stuck in transit so we started switching last week and are now 100 percent off Canada Post," Tweed spokesman Jordan Sinclair told VICE in an email.

Meanwhile, dispensary proponents in Toronto are demanding that authorities leave them alone. On Thursday, four of the city's dispensaries were raided, with police seizing $289,076 worth of weed and $29,538 in proceeds.

"If you have dispensaries that are open, your chances of going to court and being charged are very high," police chief Mark Saunders said afterward. Thursday's raids come just weeks after cops executed Project Claudia, a massive city-wide crackdown on 43 dispensaries.

At a press conference held at Toronto city hall today, Councillor Jim Karygiannis said the raids were a waste of money.

"It was a knee-jerk reaction because of a couple hundred emails," he said, calling for a more constructive conversation about the future of dispensaries.

The city's licensing and standards committee has been handing out fines to dispensary employees and landlords indicating that they are in violation of zoning regulations—the maximum penalty is $50,000.

In a report filed Monday, the committee said the "The City of Toronto does not have the authority to regulate the sale of medical or non-medical marihuana" and that dispensaries are in contravention of both federal and municipal laws. However, it noted a February Federal Court decision that ruled the current MMPR regulations are unconstitutional and said patients should be able to grow their own weed.

Advertisement

The judgment gave the federal government six months to create new legislation for patients.

Once the new regulations come into play (likely in August), the city's licensing and standards committee said it will provide an update about new regulatory options at the local level.

Sinclair told VICE Tweed is also waiting to see what the outcome of the Federal Court ruling means for the future of medical marijuana. "Regulations have already been deemed to be lacking access options and policymakers are working on improving access," he said. "We're all for storefronts, as long as they're regulated."

In 2011, Canada Post were on rotating strikes for two weeks before being locked out and later ordered back to work.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.