Bitter battles between the federal government and the medical marijuana industries continue.
On Wednesday, the federal Health Department announced it is delaying the legalization of cannabis by two years.
But while the delay was welcomed by advocates, it is also causing headaches for some businesses.
In a memo to state agencies, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said the delay could mean up to five years of delays for people trying to buy cannabis, including those who have already been licensed for the drug and who have not yet registered their use.
“We recognize that many people are frustrated with this delay,” Ambrose wrote in a letter to the states.
“Some have been waiting to purchase cannabis for months, while others have been purchasing cannabis in a timely manner and paying for it before the deadline.”
The federal government has repeatedly said it will not wait to legalize cannabis until the end of 2021.
Ambrose said she wants the government to make sure that Canadians understand the legalities of buying cannabis.
She added that the government will provide a public information campaign on the drug in 2018.
“If this delay creates additional delays, the government is committed to ensuring that consumers have access to medical cannabis as soon as possible,” Ambrose said in a statement.
The federal government’s decision comes just days after Canada announced that it would extend its moratorium on medical marijuana to include the use of the drug by Canadians who have died from a COVID-19-related illness.
Medical marijuana is still illegal under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Medical cannabis is not a controlled substance under the United States Controlled Substances Acts and therefore is subject to the same strict requirements that apply to any other substance, such as labelling requirements and a limit on potency.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMAs) and other groups have been calling on the federal governments to allow the use and distribution of medical marijuana by Canadians, arguing that the drug is less harmful to the body than prescription medications.
But the Liberals are opposed to allowing Canadians to use the drug, saying it will put patients at risk and increase addiction.