Health Canada’s weed is mostly shwag, critics warn
Last week’s police raid on Toronto’s Cannabis As Living Medicine (CALM), eastern Canada’s oldest medical cannabis club, had little in common with a blockbuster movie drug bust. In this surveillance video posted by CALM on YouTube, undercover officers flit past a parked disability scooter before taking one employee to the ground. Patrons inside remain seated as they look on, nonplussed. Now the Queen Street East compassion club’s 2,000-plus members have to go without the 16.5 kilograms of marijuana, 1.9 kilograms of hashish and 200 grams of hash oil that were seized in the bust. But the real story here isn’t the bust—it’s the blame. Critics of the cops say places like CALM need to exist because Health Canada’s federal marijuana program doesn’t know how to properly deal drugs, delivering insufficient quantities of a poor-quality bud.
In Canada, marijuana law and marijuana law enforcement have had a tenuous, at times contradictory relationship. “Various courts have upheld patients’ complaints about the Health Canada program,” the Globe reports, “and other club operators have seen similar charges—namely, possession for the purpose of trafficking—dropped in previous cases.” CALM itself had operated without incident for 14 years before police, apparently “acting on complaints,” shut it down.
“The simple solution to all this is for Health Canada to license large-scale medical cannabis production facilities,” says Ron Marzel, the club’s lawyer. If the feds were to hire local growers, they could widen their grip on production and, technically, remain the country’s sole distributor. It would then be up to state hemployees to assess need and ensure a consistent product.