Breaking Bud: Current laws on Marijuana

The More You Know

It’s important that all our members are empowered and feel comfortable about their cannabis use. We want to make sure that patients are clear about their rights and how to protect themselves, should they run into any legal issues.

Where we are now

Before April 1, 2014 those with medical need for marijuana, were able to apply for their MMAR (Medical Marijuana Access Regulation) card, which would allow them legal authorization to possess or to be licensed to grow their own weed.

As of March 31, 2014, an injunction was put in place to stop the new MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation) laws from going into effect, while the MMPR  undergoes further assessment before implementation. This was due to public outcry and ongoing litigation over court decisions. The MMPR sought to “streamline” the medical marijuana acquisition process, effectively stripping them of their rights to acquire medication on their own, leaving them to receive their medication from government regulated mail order.

The Health Canada website states:

As per the Federal Court interim injunction, the following criteria must be met:

  • Individuals must have held a valid Authorizations to Possess under the MMAR on March 21, 2014.
  • Individuals must have held a valid Personal-Use Production Licence or Designated-Person Production Licence under the MMAR on, or after, September 30, 2013, where there is also an associated valid ATP as of March 21, 2014.
    * Individuals with a medical need who do not fall within the scope of this court order and who have the support of a licensed healthcare practitioner may register with a licensed producer under the MMPR.”

For more information, please see Health Canada

How does this affect us in Vancouver?

While officially illegal under Federal law, here in Vancouver, The VPD have been very vocal about their stance on medical marijuana dispensaries (otherwise known as compassion clubs) that have been popping up in their jurisdiction.

The VPD said they will not go after well-established dispensaries which maintain best practice. Const. Brian Montague explained that his department, unlike Health Canada, does not see any threat to public safety in how these storefronts currently operate.

So, will I be arrested?*

Short Answer: Probably not. As long as you’re in Vancouver and you’re not conspicuous about it. (Jurisdictions maintained by the RCMP are another matter).

Long Answer: Possession of marijuana is a criminal offense under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In order for the judge to convict you of marijuana possession, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Had control of the marijuana, and
  • Knew the marijuana was there

A small amount is less serious. The more you have, the greater the chance that you may be charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, which is a far more serious offense with more serious penalties. The way the marijuana is packaged is also important.

For a first conviction, if you had less than 30 grams of marijuana, the maximum penalties are a fine of $1000 or 6 months in jail, or both. But the penalty for a first offense is usually much less.

FYI, 30g of pot looks like this:


For more information, take a look at the Canadian Bar Association’s info on Possession of Marijuana

So how can I protect myself?

As a member of The Healing Tree (or any other medical dispensary), you will have gone through the medical assessment process, and proven your medical need for cannabis. As such, it is imperative to your safety and the reputation of your dispensary that you do not leave your home without your membership card (some of our members go as far as to keep a copy of their doctor’s note with them as well).

No dispensary can legally serve you without your membership card and will put both the store and your safety at risk, should you be stopped without proper documentation.

At the end of the day, the medical dispensary industry and the status of medical marijuana is operating within a legal “grey-area” and we are thankful that we have the support of the VPD. As medical cannabis patients, it is important to know the law and to medicate with discretion.

* The Healing Tree is not authorized to give legitimate legal advice; follow at your own discretion


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