Reading the final report from the Task Force on Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada released late in 2016, I got the same feeling I get watching puppies open their eyes for the first time. New puppies and the task force recommendations are equally naive about marijuana.

The 105 page report has some good points, some not so good, and others downright ridiculous.

For instance, Chapter 2 is “Minimizing Harms of Use”. So that gives you an idea of how the government is looking at legal marijuana: it’s bad for you and harmful, and requires a heavy-handed approach. That’s not legalization, that’s propaganda.

Task Force Recommendations — Cultivation

But enough of that, it’s a story for another day. Instead, here I’m just going to focus on the section dealing with cultivation: “Chapter 3: Establishing a Safe and Responsible Supply Chain”.

The chapter is in five parts: Introduction, Production, Distribution, Retail, and Personal Cultivation.

Regulation

There is much talk about “safety standards” for toxic moulds, pesticides, etc. — much of it self-serving for Health Canada. And the report mentions many times, on a wide range of topics, that Health Canada is in the best position to regulate and licence producers.

Hmmm….

We know from past experience that the government shouldn’t be left in charge of anything to do with marijuana. Over fifteen years how many times did Health Canada get dragged into court over the MMAR (Medical Marijuana Access Regulations)? And how many times were those found to have unconstitutional regulations?

When they couldn’t get it right to help ill and suffering Canadians, what makes anyone think they will get it right for healthy adults?

Controls

The report mentions “Encouraging market diversity by creating a space for smaller-scale production through graduated licensing and fee structures…” controls. Sounds like extra red tape and cost to me, and for no good reasons.  It seems more like placing barriers to discourage home production rather than needed safety measures or sound advice for home cultivation.

It’s like every other sentence is “oh, that sounds good…” then after reading a little more, “oh shit, what fool came up with that?”

Limits

Under “Personal Cultivation” the report starts: “Few topics of discussion generated stronger views than the question of whether to allow Canadians to grow cannabis in their homes for their own consumption.”

There were the usual pros and cons over safety. Most of the negative comments stemmed from police experience with large-scale illegal cannabis gardens. (“Grow op” is a police-coined phrase meaning “illegal marijuana growing operations” so I refuse to use that term!) And from talk of diversion of personal marijuana to the black market. Yes, it happens.

But the report acknowledges the role and basic safety of home production. They even mention that it is legal to grow up to fifteen kilograms of tobacco for personal use, as well as making beer and wine.  

In the end the task force recommendations included the following:

  • A maximum of four plants per residence and a maximum height of 100cm (that’s just under 40 inches)
  • Prohibit unlicensed sales
  • Prohibit the making of concentrates in homes using volatile chemicals (well duh)
  • Not be visible to children (because we don’t want kids to learn about plants)
  • Encourage local authorities to establish oversight and approval, possibly even notifying the local police of personal cultivation (I see many towns having a “zero tolerance” policy to growing, and more court challenges)
  • A regulated legal market to source seeds, cuttings, etc.

Leeway

Judging from social media, I wasn’t the only one whose mind went right to SCROG (screen of green) when they heard the height restriction. Why have that at all? And why not five plants? How hard will it be to squeeze in a few “extra” plants?

And I find it odd for such a complete report, which even discusses seed-to-sale tracking, that they didn’t really address clones and cuttings.

Look at it this way: How many people actually drive the speed limit? Speeding is illegal but people do it every day, even in front of cops with no issues. The “less than 10 km/h-over and you’re okay” rule. Will two plants over be okay?

And regulate a market for seeds? Where have they been for the last twenty years while Marc Emery and others were being arrested and jailed for seed sales? There is a vast, well-stocked cannabis seed network already. Why reinvent the wheel instead of recommending working with the system in place?

Government in Action

One good thing to remember is the government isn’t required to follow any of the task force recommendations. They may come up with something altogether different, perhaps not allowing personal cultivation at all. But I’m not worried, weed is currently illegal but municipal governments are handing out business licences; people are growing, selling, and smoking; and no matter what regulations may come out tomorrow, next week or next year, I don’t see us changing the way we do things very much. Unjust laws are just that — unjust — and we will always continue to fight them.

Ya, it’s a start. But it’s still the government in action and you know their motto, “If it’s not broke fix it till it is.”

With their reputation on getting it right, I’m not planning on getting excited too soon.