(Some) Dispensaries given 30 days to stop "all activities with controlled substances"

Some dispensaries selling medical cannabis were reportedly sent a letter via email today from Health Canada warning them to immediately suspend their activities that are in violation of Federal...

Some dispensaries selling medical cannabis were reportedly sent a letter via email today from Health Canada warning them to immediately suspend their activities that are in violation of Federal law.

The letter (an email) sets a specific timeline for adherence, following up on a public statement from Health Canada recently regarding advertising restrictions on illegal products. Dispensaries are being given 30 days to stop engaging in "all activities with controlled substances" and are being given until Sept 21 to submit a written statement indicating that the dispensary will not conduct any activities with these substances without a valid licence.

The warning letter also makes reference to Vanessa's Law (Bill C-17, the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act ) which passed in November 2014. Violators of Vanessa's Law can face fines of up to $5-million and 2 years in prison for "regulatory offences" under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Lift has spoken to several dispensary owners today and it would appear not all have received the letter. It remains unclear if only some compassion clubs/dispensaries are being targeted, or if the emails are being sent out over a period of time, rather than all at once. Some have questioned the validity of the email. Health Canada was unavailable for comment at time of posting this article.

Dieter MacPherson, a director of The Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) and the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club comments: "Until we can ascertain the validity of the alleged letters from Health Canada I am reserving comment. I will say it is very strange that this communication was sent via email with no signature and some inconsistencies in the language."

Cannabis dispensaries in Canada, especially Vancouver, remain a popular and yet illegal and unregulated access point for cannabis for medical purposes. Vancouver City Council has sought to issue business licenses for these businesses in an effort to better control and regulate their spread, but have not made significant efforts to shut them down entirely, despite Federal protest.

More from Lift on this as it unfolds


Update 7:50pm PT: We're receiving numerous comments from people questioning the legitimacy of this email.

Update 11:30 am PT: We've received third-party confirmation via counsel that the email is legitimate.

Update 4:40pm PT: From Health Canada:

"Further to the Minister of Health's announcement on August 1, 2015, the Department took steps to proactively monitor all forms of marijuana advertising and promotion. On September 9, 2015, the Department (Office of Medical Cannabis) sent 13 letters to organizations who were found to be illegally advertising the sale of marijuana. The letters require that all advertising activities with marijuana cease.

"Health Canada will attempt to work cooperatively with all parties involved to encourage compliance. If continued non-compliance is identified, the Department may refer the case to law enforcement agencies for appropriate action."




 The letter:

Subject: Illegal Sale and Advertising of Marijuana

The sale and advertising of marijuana is illegal.  The (named dispensary) is advertising for sale marijuana contrary to the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Narcotic Control Regulations (NCR).  You are encouraging Canadians to engage in conduct that could also expose them to criminal liability.

Health Canada is requiring:
1. You immediately suspend all activities with controlled substances. If the(named dispensary) does not immediately cease all activities with controlled substances, we will contact, within 30 days of the date of this letter, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for enforcement action as they deem necessary, and
2. Submit a written statement indicating that the(named dispensary) will not conduct any activities with these substances without a valid licence. The original copy of your written response signed must be received in this Office bySeptember 21, 2015.

With the passage of Bill C-17 (Vanessa’s law) on November 6, 2014, there are increased fines and penalties for regulatory offences under the FDA, including a maximum penalty of $5,000,000 or 2 years in prison or both. Additionally, a person who knowingly makes a false or misleading statement to the Minister of Health or who knowingly or recklessly causes a serious risk of injury in contravening the Act or its regulations could face a higher fine or up to five years in jail, at the discretion of the court.

The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) define advertisement, as does the FDA and the NCR, to include any representation by any means whatever for the purpose of promoting directly or indirectly the sale or disposal of a drug in the case of the FDA, or a narcotic with respect to the MMPR and NCR.  

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) prohibits any person from engaging in activities such as production, provision, sale (including offering for sale, import, export, transport, delivering of controlled substances unless authorized under its Regulations).

In addition, in accordance with subsection 12(1)(a) of the MMPR, a licensed producer may possess, produce, sell, provide, ship, deliver, transport and destroy marijuana, including viable seeds. Therefore, you must apply to be a licensed producer to be authorized under these regulations to conduct the above-mentioned activities with marijuana.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1 866-337-7705 or by e-mail at CMC@hc-sc.gc.ca.


Office of Medical Cannabis
Health Canada

Featured image of V-CBC from Canlio.com

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  1. Jean Reply

    more court battle.

    Between Tweed's Gamma Radiated + and the Monsanto Actinovate SP sprayed fungicide on hermies junk cannabis and dispensaries, dispensaries are the clean winners.

    1. Mike Reply

      Do you have a source confirming Tweed's use of Monsanto fungicide on their cannabis? (Not meaning to sound accusatory, I'm legitimately curious to know more)

    2. Lou Reply

      CannTrust is an LP that does NOT use any herbicides or pesticides on their product. Perhaps you need to research this a little more...

      1. Bob Reply

        Do you know what you are inhaling?

        People and patients don't understand yes Gamma Radiation and pesticides are fine for use on veggies because you wash them before use, with Cannabis you NOT wash the buds before use as a matter of fact whatever is used in the plants is dried in to the bud, and to be totally unsafe, Gamma radiation and pesticides have never been tested in inhaled products(only food) so next time you light a bowl of Tweeds twigs and seeds remember this post!!!

        1. Rick Reply

          Jean and Bob what are you talking about? There is very definitive and extensive scientific proof that irradiation of cannabis is safe and does not change the cannabinoid concentrations. http://ncsm.nl/cfsystem/userData/pdf/1318193390__document__2006-pharmacy-vs-coffeeshop-eng.pdf

          I believe you guys know very little about what you are arguing against. Not even sure that you know what gamma-irradiation is. Regardless, I would never trust a dispensary that has ZERO accountability on their production methods over an LP whose industry standards far exceed those of the normal health supplement market.

  2. Mike Reply

    When Health Canada sent out letters marked "Medical Marijuana" - ON THE OUTSIDE - to every registered medical cannabis patient in Canada, they got sued, as one does when one screws up as egregiously as Health Canada did. In response, they advanced the legal argument in court that they were not responsible for their misconduct, because medical cannabis patients should have expected their privacy to be breached at some point. In other words, not only does Health Canada lack the resources to ensure even the most basic compliance with Canadian law within their own office, but they feel this is a publicly known fact that all medicinal cannabis patients should be aware of. They can't even ensure their own compliance with the law, but suddenly they have the resources to ensure compliance with the law at more than a dozen dispensaries? What's more, Health Canada was perfectly well aware when they created the MMPR that the flourishing of the cannabis black market would be a direct consequence. I am certain they knew this both because anyone with a basic understanding of economics could have foreseen it, and because when they solicited public feedback, I wrote to them and pointed it out to them, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. All questions on dispensaries vs LPs aside, Health Canada's brutal mismanagement of the medical cannabis portfolio has gone on long enough. It's time for change.

  3. soberwise Reply

    No matter what your personal values are regarding cannabis, there is nothing more valuable than human life. Statistics from US states with easy access to cannabis are showing a 25% decrease in opiate deaths. If we consider that 3000 Canadians will die from opiate overdose this year, making cannabis harder to obtain is sentencing 750 people to death. Ironic that Rona Ambrose is using a bill passed with her name on it that is supposed to make drugs safer,to keep people from a safer drug. The prescription drugs which are approved by health Canada will cause the biggest percentage of those deaths.Voting Conservative is like voting for a return of the death penalty,but for innocent people.