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Fact Sheet: Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations
On August 11, 2016, Health Canada announced the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). These new regulations will replace the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) when they come into force on August 24, 2016, and are being implemented as a result of the Federal Court ruling in the case of Allard v. Canada. These new regulations will allow for reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes for Canadians who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by their health care practitioner.
What has changed under the ACMPR?
The largest single change is the introduction of provisions that will allow Canadians who need access to cannabis for medical purposes to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or designate someone to produce it for them. Health Canada believes that the addition of these provisions enabling individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes will provide for accessibility and affordability, and address the issue of reasonable access identified by the Federal Court.
What does this mean for health care practitioners?
The ACMPR do not change the role of health care practitioners in Canada in the administration of this program. Health care practitioners remain responsible for authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Updated guidance for health care practitioners can be found on Health Canada's website that may aid in determining the proper daily amount/dose for patients requiring cannabis for medical purposes. Several provincial health care regulatory authorities and the College of Family Physicians of Canada have also issued guidelines or guidance for health care practitioners.
What does this mean for patients?
Individuals authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by a health care practitioner will continue to have the option of purchasing safe, quality-controlled cannabis from one of the 34 producers licensed by Health Canada. They will also have the option of producing a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or designating someone to produce it for them.
With the appropriate medical document from their health care practitioner, individuals can apply to register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.
With registration, individuals will be allowed to produce a limited number of plants based on a formula that takes into account the individual’s daily dose (i.e. quantity authorized by their physician) and the average yield of a plant under certain growing conditions, such as indoor or outdoor growing.
Individuals who were previously authorized to possess and/or produce marijuana under the former Marihuana Medical Access Regulations and who meet the terms of the Federal Court injunction order may continue to do so until the Court orders otherwise. Individuals covered by the injunction who wish to change the terms of their license, such as a change in address or designated producer, will be able to do so by registering with Health Canada under the new regulations.
Additional information on how to register, including forms, will be available on Health Canada’s website on August 24. If you have any questions, please visit the Health Canada website or call toll-free at 1-866-337-7705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does this mean for Licensed Producers (LP)?
The 34 Licensed Producers across Canada, which are currently supplying close to 70,000 Canadians, are expected to continue to be the main source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes. In addition to continuing to provide access to dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil, these licensed producers will now also be the only legal source of starting materials (seeds or plants) and interim supply to individuals who are registered with Health Canada to produce or who have designated someone to produce for them, a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.
Do the regulations allow storefront operations?
No. Access to cannabis for medical purposes is only permitted under the terms and conditions set out in the regulations. Storefront operations selling marijuana, commonly known as “dispensaries” and “compassion clubs” are not authorized to sell cannabis for medical or any other purposes. These operations are illegally supplied, and provide products that are unregulated and may be unsafe. Illegal storefront distribution and sale of cannabis are subject to law enforcement action. The only legal commercial source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes in Canada is through purchase directly from one of the 34 producers licenced by Health Canada.
Is Health Canada contemplating other changes? What do these regulations mean in terms of the Government’s commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana?
These regulations provide an immediate solution that is necessary to address the issue of reasonable access identified by the Federal Court within the six month deadline that the Court provided. These changes should not be interpreted as being the longer-term plan for the regulation of access to cannabis for medical purposes, which is presently being determined as part of the Government’s commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
These new regulations will continue to be evaluated to ensure that individuals authorized to access cannabis for their own medical purposes have reasonable access. Health Canada is also committed to studying other models, including pharmacy distribution, to provide access to cannabis for medical purposes.
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Hon. Jane Philpott Health Canada Health and Safety
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