Cannabis oil, fresh mar­i­juana avail­able

Forms that can go into such items as brown­ies, lip balms here af­ter top court rul­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - BY STEPHANIE LEVITZ

Rules that lim­ited med­i­cal mar­i­juana users to only dried forms of the drug have gone up in smoke.

Forms of mar­i­juana that can be used to make ev­ery­thing from brown­ies to lip balms will now be legally avail­able fol­low­ing Health Canada's swift re­sponse to a Supreme Court of Canada rul­ing that had struck down an el­e­ment of the pre­vi­ous reg­u­la­tions on ac­cess to med­i­cal mar­i­juana as un­con­sti­tu­tional.

In a di­rec­tive is­sued Wed­nes­day, the depart­ment said that cannabis oils, as well as fresh mar­i­juana buds and leaves, can now be sold by li­censed pro­duc­ers pro­vided they fol­low sim­i­lar pack­ag­ing and la­belling re­quire­ments as ex­ist for dried mar­i­juana.

The med­i­cal cannabis in­dus­try ap­plauded the move as a sig­nal that Canada is a world leader in com­pas­sion­ate and ra­tio­nal med­i­cal cannabis pol­icy.

But Health Min­is­ter Rona Am­brose sug­gested the gov­ern­ment only acted be­cause it had to.

“It's im­por­tant that Cana­di­ans un­der­stand that mar­i­juana is not an ap­proved drug in Canada or an ap­proved medicine. It has not gone through what is the very rig­or­ous test­ing for safety and ef­fi­cacy that ev­ery drug in Canada goes through,” Am­brose said at an un­re­lated event in Ed­mon­ton Wed­nes­day.

“(Health Canada) will im­ple­ment what the Supreme Court has said in their court-im­posed mar­i­juana for medic­i­nal pur­poses pro­gram. But their first top-of-line mes­sage is, 'Mar­i­juana is not a medicine.”'

In June, the top court ruled that the ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tions re­strict­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion to dried pot vi­o­lated the char­ter in part be­cause any­one pos­sess­ing other forms of the drug was at risk of go­ing to jail.

“The pro­hi­bi­tion of non-dried forms of med­i­cal mar­i­juana lim­its lib­erty and se­cu­rity of the per­son in a man­ner that is ar­bi­trary and hence is not in ac­cord with the prin­ci­ples of fun­da­men­tal jus­tice,” said the unan­i­mous writ­ten judge­ment.

The rul­ing also said be­cause there were lim­ited ways to use dried pot, peo­ple were forced to choose a treat­ment that was po­ten­tially less ef­fec­tive or even dan­ger­ous for them in or­der to com­ply with the law - and that too was un­con­sti­tu­tional.

In turn, how­ever, the rul­ing cre­ated some con­fu­sion as to whether it gave peo­ple the right to sell prod­ucts made from mar­i­juana, like but­ters or brown­ies.

The new reg­u­la­tions al­low li­censed pro­duc­ers to sell cannabis oil or fresh leaves or buds, but they can't turn it into other prod­ucts.

But the reg­u­la­tions do al­low those au­tho­rized to pos­sess med­i­cal mar­i­juana to con­vert any form of the drug, in­clud­ing dried, into other prod­ucts for their own use, which they legally weren't al­lowed to do be­fore.

For pa­tients, it's a welcome step for­ward, the Cana­dian Med­i­cal Cannabis In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion said in a state­ment.

Many can't in­hale cannabis, and oth­ers find they are bet­ter able to man­age their symp­toms by in­gest­ing, rather than in­hal­ing, they said.

“By in­clud­ing a greater va­ri­ety of op­tions for dif­fer­ent modes of de­liv­ery, Canada has shown it­self once again to be a world leader in com­pas­sion­ate and ra­tio­nal med­i­cal cannabis pol­icy,” said Neil Belot, the as­so­ci­a­tion's ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

AP PHOTO

An em­ployee at the med­i­cal mar­i­juana dis­pen­sary Kaya Shack dis­plays dif­fer­ent types of mar­i­juana flow­ers sold at the shop in Port­land, Ore., on June 26. Med­i­cal mar­i­juana users can legally con­sume other forms of the drug be­yond the tra­di­tional dried ver­sion un­der new Health Canada rules that fol­low a re­cent rul­ing by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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