Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Medical Pot Regime Breeds Criminal, Safety Concerns, RCMP Argues in Court

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Medical Pot Regime Breeds Criminal, Safety Concerns, RCMP Argues in Court

Article excerpt

Medical pot regime spawns crime: RCMP

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OTTAWA - There is an "overwhelming temptation" for growers of medical marijuana to supplement their income under the current system by selling extra pot, the RCMP says.

Police investigations have revealed various abuses of the federal medical marijuana program, including trafficking for personal gain, violent theft of homegrown pot and involvement of organized crime, RCMP Cpl. Shane Holmquist says in an affidavit filed in the Federal Court of Canada.

Health Canada plans a revamp of the medical marijuana system -- in part due to concerns about criminal infiltration.

Under the existing program, to be phased out by April 1, people are issued licences to grow marijuana for their personal use to help ease the symptoms of painful conditions.

Several British Columbia residents with licences to grow their own pot are asking the Federal Court for an injunction that would allow them to continue doing so.

They argue the proposed new system, under which only licensed producers could grow marijuana for distribution to approved patients by mail, would deny them a safe supply tailored to their needs at an affordable price.

Under the current regime, just over 30,000 people have a licence from Health Canada to grow marijuana for themselves or for another person. More than half of them are in B.C.

In his court submission, requested by the federal government as part of its defence, Holmquist says he has seen numerous instances of licensees trafficking marijuana they grow -- sometimes through cultivation of oversized "monster" plants.

In one case, a grower stated one room of marijuana was for medical purposes while another was a "mortgage helper," Holmquist says.

"In my experience investigating (medical marijuana) grow locations, I have found that there is an overwhelming temptation for ... growers to sell marijuana to supplement their income."

Licences are also used to disguise commercial-scale grow operations, Holmquist says. He investigated a case last year that turned up a chicken barn linked to growing licences. …

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