Medical marijuana producers worry about potential postal strike

Posted Jun 27, 2016 by Marcus Hondro
Canada's medical marijuana producers have a pot of problems on their hands. A looming labour dispute has them scrambling to find ways to get their marijuana medicine to customers should the need arise.
A photograph of Cannabis sativa.
A photograph of Cannabis sativa.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Marijuana and Canada Post
There is a potential problem brewing for early July. The contract the more than 40,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are currently governed by ran out last summer but only on July 2 will workers, they include rural and urban mail deliverers, be in a legal position to strike. Also on that date, Canada Post will be in a legal position to lock them out.
Both sides say negotiations are ongoing but that little substantive progress is being made and no contract is in sight. When you couple this scenario with the fact the Canadian government changed the rules surrounding access to medical marijuana in 2014, a problem presents itself.
That's because since those rule changes two years ago, only medical pot producers licensed by Health Canada can provide the product and they must do so exclusively by mail delivery. So yeah, dude, that would be a problem if there's, like, no mail.
Licensed pot producers
Medical marijuana producers aren't happy about it. Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp in Ontario, told CBC Newsit has been working well with Canada Post and it is "unfortunate and ridiculous" the dispute could disrupt servicing a market that is "actually growing for them."
So what are the producers of medical weed doing to ensure their customers get their medicine? As of this month the number of medical marijuana patients is estimated to be around 75,000 in Canada and producers are indeed making contingency plans to service them.
There are private delivery options out there but they will be more expensive and, in particular when it comes to rural areas, likely less dependable. It has patients across Canada concerned, with one describing a potential disruption in service as "scary."
Producers are saying the potential work stoppage could highlight a flawed delivery system and many are making renewed calls for storefront medical marijuana delivery.
Canada Post has said the warning for this came months ago and that there are options out there. It said parity of wages between city and rural workers is a major issue in the dispute, along with door-to-door delivery.
Statistics show that the medical marijuana industry send tens of thousands of packages through the mail each month.