But even as the new system privatizes distribution, critics fear regulation under the conservative-led government will make it harder for patients to get access to the drug. In Canada, medical marijuana has been legal but highly regulated for more than a decade. Patients with doctor approval could grow or have someone else grow small quantities or request limited amounts from Health Canada, the national healthcare department. But the conservative-led government voted earlier this year to effectively scrap that system in favor of a privatebut also strictly regulatedsystem, targeting the flow of legal marijuana into the black market and shedding Health Canadas role in marijuana production. Health Canada will phase out the current system, under which it sells registered users marijuana grown by Prairie Plant Systems , by the end of March. Instead, starting Tuesday, medical marijuana users, or aspiring users, can send in an application directly to sanctioned corporate producers , along with a doctors note (or in some cases, a nurses note). If approved, they can place an order, pay the market price (the black market price is about $10 a gram; officials say the medical marijuana price will drop below that within a year), and wait for the secure courier to deliver their weed. (MORE: Majority of Americans Support Legalization of Marijuana ) There are nearly 40,000 people registered to use the drug under the current system in a country with a tenth the population of the U.S., and the government expects that number to balloonup to 450,000 by 2024and fuel what could become a $1.3 billion domestic pot industry. But the government expects that the privatized system, with only heavily-vetted producers (so far there are two licensed distributors, of at least 156 applications), will help ensure a higher level of oversight. Were fairly confident that well have a healthy commercial industry in time, Sophie Galarneau, a senior official with Health Canada, told the Canadian Press. Its a whole other ball game. The new regulations have failed to win over advocates for legalized marijuana, who have faced strong resistance from the conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
This investment will be in addition to the nearly $6 billion Cdn that Petronas paid last year to purchase Calgary-based Progress Energy Inc. aI am told this is the largest direct investment in Canada by any country,a Najib said at a brief news conference in the opulent prime ministeras office in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, before he and Harper left Malaysia separately to attend the annual APEC summit of Pacific Rim leaders. aThis is a very significant landmark decision by Petronas,a Najib said. aIt is done in the wake of the friendly relations we have and the positive response we received from the Canadian government in respect to Petronasa involvement in Canada a We have a very high level of confidence that this investment will be supported by the Canadian government today and in the future. aWe believe that this project will be mutually beneficial because it will open up Canadian energy to new markets, not simply in east Asia, at the same time creating jobs.a The Malaysian leader said his government would be equally welcoming of Canadian investment. Harper did not refer directly to Najibas remarks about the Petronas investment a or to the huge dollar figure that his Malaysian counterpart attached to it a before making the three-hour flight to Bali on an RCAF aircraft. But he said, aWe view the Petronas investment very positively. All the indications are that Petronas is looking at further investments and Canada is very excited about this possibility.a Such investments will each be judged on their own merits and whether they serve Canadian interests, he added. aObviously our policy involves the use of discretion when it comes to state-owned enterprise,a Harper said. It has been known for some time that Petronas would be spending big dollars in Canada, but previous estimates of the size of Petronasa investment had usually come in at no higher than $19 billion Cdn. Najib did not explain the large difference. But the Petronas takeover of Progress Energy a and a bigger oil patch buyout by Chinaas state-owned CNOOC last year a prompted months of hand-wringing by the Harper government, which approved them while at the same time introducing new rules that permit majority takeovers of Canadian companies by state-owned enterprises only in the most exceptional circumstances. In Ottawa Sunday, Opposition NDP leader Tom Mulcair reacted to the latest announcement by saying, aWeare always happy to see investment if itas sustainable investment. aOne of the problems that weare facing is that Stephen Harperas gutted all of the sustainable legislation in Canada and that means Canadians no longer have a credible, thorough environmental assessment that they can look at and say aOkay, this can be done safely.a a Mulcair said the announcement also shows awe still havenat provided a clear answer as to what the rules are for foreign investment.
Canada and Malaysia sign deal to improve cooperation on security issues
That’s not to say Canadians aren’t competing in Southeast Asia. The emerging economies have been a bright spot in global economic growth and a number of Canadian firms have capitalized. Marc Parent, the chief executive officer of Montreal-based CAE, says Canada punches “way above our weight” in the aerospace sector, and CAE’s flight simulators and pilot training are part of that success. A growing Southeast Asian middle class is a key driver, said Parent. And having a stream of top Canadian officials from ministers to the Governor General and now the prime minister visit the region in recent years has helped as well. “I can tell you it’s translated into increased business for us in Brunei, in the Philippines and other (regional) nations,” Parent told reporters. He was part of the round table group that met Harper on Saturday in a downtown hotel. Talisman Energy, Bombardier Rail, Teknion Furniture and several major financial institutions are among the Canadian firms already cashing in on regional growth. CAE Inc., does all the pilot training for Air Asia, a discount airline that’s the fastest growing in the region. Canadian business presence in Malaysia may be growing, but the Chinese regional colossus puts Canada-Malaysian two-way trade in sharp perspective and explains the fawning media coverage accorded President Xi’s visit. Canada-Malaysia commercial trade tops out at about $3 billion annually, while China is doing almost $100 billion dollars a year in trade with Malaysia. On Saturday, President Xi said he’d like to see that total hit $160 billion a year by 2017. Small wonder then that Harper is keying in on trade talks with Pacific Rim countries Malaysia included as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Those talks will be a subtext of the leaders’ summit that begins Monday on the Indonesian island of Bali, where Harper heads later Sunday. Canada and Malaysia also signed a declaration of intent to conclude a new tax agreement that Canadian officials say will reduce tax barriers between the two countries, but a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office contained no details.