People growing too much pot at home, Health Canada warns

Pressure on to prevent abuse of home-grow program

Reuters — Health Canada on Thursday raised concerns about the large quantity of medical marijuana people were growing at home, after its data showed a significant jump in daily average production permitted by health care practitioners.

While the practitioners can allow registered patients to grow a limited amount at home for personal use, the regulator’s findings show that such authorizations rose to a staggering 36.2 grams by the end of March, compared with 25.2 grams in October 2018.

Meanwhile, average purchases by registered patients, who can buy pot from licensed producers and federal medical sellers, have stayed as low as 2 to 2.1 grams every month, data showed.

“An early review of the data signals to me a striking difference in the average amounts prescribed per day in the two different channels,” said Deepak Anand, CEO of Toronto medical cannabis distributor Materia Ventures.

With no concrete limits on personal production, Health Canada is facing rising pressure to tackle the perceived abuse of the home-grow program.

“Health Canada is concerned that high daily authorized amounts are, in a few instances, leading to abuse of the access to cannabis for medical purposes framework and are undermining the integrity of the system,” the regulator said.

CBC News reported in October that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) raided dozens of illegal cannabis grow operations between July and October, a majority of which had personal production authorization.

“It remains unclear if we are dealing with systemic issues as opposed to targeted ones, as a result of the tremendous pressure the regulator has fallen under recently by provincial and municipal governments,” Anand said.

Health Canada’s finding show 43,211 individuals were allowed to grow marijuana for their personal medical use by the end of September, and 377,024 clients were registered as patients.

— Reporting for Reuters by Shariq Khan and Vishwadha Chander in Bangalore and Steve Scherer in Toronto.

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