Up in Smoke: Canadian Regulators Find Pot too Potent


February 24, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ News


A licensed medical marijuana producer in Canada has issued a recall for its pot-based product, saying some batches of it are too strong.

According to an information update on the Health Canada website, third party tests of samples of its “Nice N’EZ” product were found to exceed the product’s labeled strength for delta-9-tetahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s active ingredient.

Background

Medical marijuana (spelled ‘marihuana’ in some official documents) has been regulated in Canada since May 1999, when an interim guidance document was issued to “assist individuals who want to apply for an exemption [from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)] for medical purposes.” In June 1999, Health Canada issued its Research Plan for Marijuana for Medical Purposes, which detailed provisions for studying marijuana for medical purposes.

In 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) was enacted, which established parameters for the possession, production and study of marijuana for medical purposes. Under MMAR, individuals were able to obtain marijuana by applying for a license to either produce their own marijuana, choose another individual to grow the product for them or purchase directly from Health Canada.

While many patients and advocates valued the ability for individuals to grow marijuana, critics of MMAR found the program was “open to abuse.” Also, because MMAR only allowed for individual licensing to produce marijuana, Health Canada was inundated with applications for these licenses.

In 2011, Health Canada held a public consultation to review MMAR, taking into consideration the views of licensed individuals, law enforcement, government bodies and other concerned stakeholders. The consultation yielded a number of proposed changes to MMAR, namely restricting personal production of marijuana in favor of commercially licensed production. Groups supporting MMAR suggested stricter controls on home producers rather than abolishing home production altogether.

Following the consultation, the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), was enacted with the goal of treating marijuana more like other regulated drugs. As such, individuals may no longer produce marijuana for personal use. Under MMPR, medical marijuana is subject to strict regulations for licensing, manufacturing, labeling, quality and distribution. To enforce these requirements, Health Canada regularly inspects licensed producers, of which there are 23 listed on the Health Canada website.
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