A lawyer representing several Vancouver Island cannabis dispensaries affected by a ban by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), says the regulator's actions are against the spirit of a 2015 Supreme Court decision.
In the letter, Kirk Tousaw, who represents several cannabis businesses on Vancouver Island that sell edible cannabis products, says the recent actions by VIHA are "regressive" and that restricting consumer access to these products is unconstitutional. In the 2015 case of R v Smith, the Supreme Court ruled that the existing legal system at the time, which limited legal access and possession to dried cannabis, was unconstitutional.
Health Canada subsequently altered the regulations, allowing the regulated commercial producers under the then Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) to produce and sell cannabis oil. There are currently 19 producers licensed to make and sell cannabis oil under Health Canada's new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
VIHA issued their warning letters in mid March after they say they received a phone call from a concerned citizen who claimed to have seen an unsanitary environment inside one business selling edibles. The letter prevents dispensaries form selling edibles, but not oils or dried cannabis.
Victoria, BC recently passed regulations that will allow dispensaries to apply for business licenses. Unlike Vancouver, where dispensary regulations specifically banned edibles (while still allowing oils), Victoria’s rules didn't disallow the sale of edibles, but left the issue of how to regulate edibles with VIHA. VIHA's letter in March noted dispensaries thaat continue to sell edibles may "negatively impact" their ability to get a business license from the city in the coming months.
VIHA was unable to make any official comment on the letter at press time, but you can read all of Kirk Tousaw's letter below.