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Medical Marijuana Producers Can Now Sell Fresh Buds, Cannabis Oil in Canada

Following a Supreme Court of Canada decision that legalized the possession of edibles, the government announced Wednesday it has eased restrictions on what medical marijuana can be sold by mail and by certain producers.

by Justin Ling
Jul 8 2015, 6:15pm

Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA

In a big backtrack on its tough talk, the government of Canada will be allowing the sale of cannabis oil to medical marijuana users, meaning patients with prescriptions will be able to eat all sorts of THC-rich delights in the near future.

The decision comes on the back of a major loss for Ottawa in a constitutional challenge to its prohibitions on marijuana edibles and oils, as VICE News reported last month.

Previously, the law criminalized the possession of all medical marijuana products, except for dried buds. Separate regulations forbid the sale of edibles and oils.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the criminal prohibitions on possession, but said nothing of the regulations on sale. That left medical marijuana vendors in a legal gray zone.

That changed today, when Health Minister Rona Ambrose announced that cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds would be authorized for sale, both of which can be used to bake cookies, brownies, and make products that are easier to ingest than dried marijuana, which has to be smoked.

"In order to eliminate uncertainty around a legal source of supply of marijuana, Health Canada has taken the immediate step of issuing ... [an exemption] allowing licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds and leaves in addition to dried marijuana," reads a release from Health Canada.

Under the new requirements, those producers licensed to sell medical marijuana must only sell and distribute the pot through the mail, indicate the THC content of the products, use child-resistant packaging, report any adverse reactions to the products, and they must not make any therapeutic claims of their product.

But while the government acquiesced to the Supreme Court, it did not drop its vocal objections to medical marijuana use.

"There continues to be little to no scientific evidence of safety or efficacy for marijuana for medical purposes including how marijuana interacts with other substances or how it affects the body when consumed in forms other than dried," the press release reads, going on to claim that marijuana can cause schizophrenia.

There is little evidence on how marijuana can work in a clinical context partly because there has been little scientific study done in Canada. The press release notes that there have been six clinical trials of medical marijuana since 2001, and that "the department has not rejected any clinical trial around marijuana for medical purposes," yet a database of clinical trials only lists two instances where cannabis has been used in scientific study, both from 2014. One is pending, while the other is ongoing.

The press releases goes on to note that the only legal way to sell the drug is over mail. "Health Canada does not license organizations such as 'compassion clubs' or 'dispensaries.' They are illegal," the government said.

VICE News has already reported on Ottawa's insistence that Vancouver police shut down the city's numerous medical marijuana dispensaries, and the council's defiance, instead opting to regulate the industry inside the city limits.

Follow Justin Ling on Twitter: @justin_ling