MLA wants stronger rules for medical marijuana

Marc Dalton thinks Health Canada program is ‘out of control’

MLA Marc Dalton hopes the Conservative goverment re-examines regulations around medical marijuana.

MLA Marc Dalton hopes the Conservative goverment re-examines regulations around medical marijuana.

The provincial representative for Maple Ridge-Mission hopes the federal government takes a fresh look at regulations around medical marijuana now that the Conservatives have a majority.

B.C. Liberal MLA Marc Dalton believes the program, administered by Health Canada, is “out of control.”

Dalton believes medical grow operations are linked to organized crime and that the federal program is being abused and causing problems in the community.

However, “It is impossible to verify.”

He adds that police, especially in Mission, have expressed several concerns about medical grow operations, citing their proliferation and public safety concerns.

Health Canada grants access to marijuana for medical use to those who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses.

Currently,  10,500 people hold Authorization to Possess dried marihuana under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations in Canada.

Of those, 5,983 hold a Personal Use Production Licence.

Another 1,984 hold a Designated-Person Production License under the MMAR in Canada.

Getting a Heath Canada permit, though, isn’t easy.

Patients must satisfy legal and medical conditions set by Ottawa before a permit to possess marijuana is issued. If the person wants to grow their own marijuana, they must complete another application and a third one, if they want to purchase seeds from Prairie Plant Systems (PPS) – the only government-approved supplier.

If they can’t grow their own crop, a “designated person” who clears a criminal record check must apply for a licence.

Dalton, a former federal Tory candidate, intends to contact Conservative MP Randy Kamp to express his feelings about regulations around medical marijuana.

“I am very much hoping that now that we have a majority Conservative government, they will look at this and re-examine this,” said Dalton, who was at Kamp’s campaign office the night of the federal election.

“I really do hope we can see some action on this file.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP, though, don’t share Dalton’s concerns about the medical marijuana program, but note legal cannabis crops are prime targets for thieves who often resort to violence while committing crimes.

“The medicinal marijuana program has become problematic in that it has put legal growers into conflict with illegal operations,” said Supt. Dave Walsh.

“This has resulted in them becoming victims of home invasions, robberies and violence.”

Dalton’s apprehensions about medical marijuana also surprises the president of The Always Growing Green Society, which operates Taggs Medical Cannabis Dispensary in Maple Ridge.

Michael Joinson said there isn’t rampant abuse of the medical cannabis system.

Since the non-profit society opened a year ago, it has grown to 300 members, a figure, he notes, that reinforces the need for more access to marijuana and places that dispense it.

He admits the dispensary, as well as seven others in B.C., are nervous about a Conservative majority government curtailing access to medical marijuana.

The dispensary’s supply comes from “compassionate growers” who are authorized to grow marijuana by Health Canada.

Joinson has invited Dalton and Kamp to the dispensary, but neither accepted his offer.

“I don’t respect anything Marc Dalton has to say unless he talks to our members and sees how it works,” said Joinson.

“How can he judge us without knowing who we are?”