First Health Canada Helps Prosecute Marijuana Growers

Feb 28, 2012

Montréal’s Cen­tre de Com­pas­sion, a med­ical mar­i­juana facil­ity, was raided last year and sub­se­quently shut down, its direc­tor Marc-Boris St. Mau­rice charged with traf­fick­ing. Yet, much to his sur­prise, Health Canada asked him for advice on the sub­ject of med­ical mar­i­juana, along with other black mar­ket med­ical mar­i­juana grow­ers and dis­pensers and mem­bers of Health Canada’s Bureau of Med­ical Mar­i­huana Reg­u­la­tory Reform, at a meet­ing in Ottawa Wednes­day. They wanted to know how to grow, dis­trib­ute and reg­u­late the drug for med­ical pur­poses. The National Post’s Kristin Annable spoke to Mr. St. Mau­rice: Q: Health Canada had an audi­ence full of peo­ple who Ottawa has spent years try­ing to shut up and shut down. With this oppor­tu­nity, what sort of ques­tions did they ask? A: Well I have the sheet right here, some exam­ples are: In an indoor instal­la­tion would you use arti­fi­cial or nat­ural light? Should you use hydro­ponic or nat­ural soil? What are the min­i­mum require­ments, in your opin­ion, for the per­son in charge of qual­ity? Q: And how did you answer those ques­tions? A: In my opin­ion the most impor­tant thing is the pro­fi­ciency of the per­son, whether it is hydro­ponic or nat­ural soil. Obvi­ously, I pre­fer indoor because you can con­trol the envi­ron­ment bet­ter. I think you would need some­one with both micro­bi­ol­ogy expe­ri­ence and some­one who has expe­ri­ence cul­ti­vat­ing. Q: Usu­ally facil­i­ties like yours are at odds with the gov­ern­ment. How does it feel to have Health Canada come to you look­ing for help? A: That is the irony of the sit­u­a­tion. Health Canada has come to court tes­ti­fy­ing against myself and other med­ical mar­i­juana providers many times. Yet, now they are com­ing to us look­ing for infor­ma­tion because they know it has value. Some peo­ple here have cases pend­ing against them; are they going to tes­tify against us after invit­ing us here? Q: What were the peo­ple like who were there? A: There were pro­duc­ers from all over the coun­try. I think there was at least three from Toronto, some more from Mon­tréal, Hal­i­fax, Guelph. The crowd was quite diverse, peo­ple in suits and ties, peo­ple in pony­tails and leather hats, every­one from lawyers to old hip­pies. Q: Over the years you must have devel­oped quite the exper­tise on the sub­ject. A: Yes, we have always had to do it ille­gally. The pos­i­tive is that they are acknowl­edg­ing our level of exper­tise, which is a phe­nom­e­non. Q: So how did they extend the invite to you? A: Last sum­mer, Health Canada announced that they were over­haul­ing the whole med­ical mar­i­juana access reg­u­la­tions and get­ting rid of per­sonal pro­duc­tion licenses. We went to a con­sul­ta­tion at that time to dis­cuss dis­pens­ing mar­i­juana, where they announced that they would be giv­ing out com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion licenses to “com­pas­sion care” facil­i­ties to sup­ply and legally pro­duce it. Q: So they decided that they want it pro­duced com­mer­cially for med­ical use? A: They said they would have a sub­se­quent meet­ing to follow-up, which was this meet­ing. This was the first meet­ing that they have reached out to and rec­og­nized our exper­tise on the sub­ject of pro­duc­tion. Q: And how did they con­duct the meet­ing? A: It was in a hotel con­fer­ence room. We were bro­ken up into three groups to dis­cuss three themes: Qual­ity, record keep­ing and secu­rity. Q: Do you think the gov­ern­ment under­stands what they are doing when it comes to grow­ing mar­i­juana? A: No I don’t think they do. After 10 years of this, they are real­iz­ing that what we do is com­plex. Q: What were the big­ger con­cerns raised at this con­sul­ta­tion? A: Secu­rity. One thing they were ask­ing was whether they should do crim­i­nal back­ground checks for the pro­duc­ers. I’m of the opin­ion it would be wrong to exclude peo­ple who have a record of mar­i­juana pro­duc­tion, because they have the expe­ri­ence. It’d be like hav­ing a gay rights club and only let­ting straight peo­ple in. Source: National Post (Canada) Copy­right: 2012 Can­west Pub­lish­ing Inc. Web­site: http://​www​.nation​al​post​.com/ Author: Kristin Annable

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