To our valued Simcoe Holistic Health patients,

Health Canada has 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?

The single largest 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 patients?

Individuals with a medical need, and who have the authorization of their health care practitioner, will now be able to access cannabis in three ways:

  • they can continue to access quality-controlled cannabis by registering with licensed producers
  • they can register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes
  • they can designate someone else to produce it for them.

Under the ACMPR, those who are currently registered to purchase from a licensed producer may continue to do so without any interruptions to their supply.

Individuals who do not currently have access to cannabis for medical purposes need to discuss their options with their health care practitioner. The practitioner may complete a medical document if it is decided that cannabis is a good treatment option.

No matter how individuals obtain cannabis (i.e., under Part 1 or 2 of the ACMPR), their possession limit is the lesser of a 30-day supply or 150 grams of dried marijuana or the equivalent amount if in another form.

If an individual wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada. An original medical document from the health care practitioner must be provided and the application must include information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored.

Once successfully registered, the individual will receive a registration certificate from Health Canada. The certificate will include information required for the individual to show his/her legal authority to possess and produce cannabis. It will also include the location and maximum limits of the production and storage activities, as well as the individual’s possession limit.

If an individual chooses to designate another individual to produce a limited amount of cannabis for him/her, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada (similar to if the individual was to produce it him/herself, but with information from the designated person). An original medical document from the health care practitioner and a declaration by the designated person, including information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored, must be provided. The designated person must include a document issued by a Canadian police force proving the individual has not been convicted or received a sentence for a designated drug offence within the 10 previous years. A designated person can only produce for a maximum of two individuals including him/herself.

Once successfully registered, the registered person will receive a registration certificate from Health Canada. The designated person will also receive a document from Health Canada containing information outlining what activities are permitted. The certificate and the document could be used by either the registered person or the designated person, respectively, to demonstrate the legal authority to possess and produce cannabis.

Under the former MMAR, the only option to acquire starting materials was seeds obtained from Health Canada. In addition, individuals who were authorized to possess marijuana for their own medical purposes could only purchase an interim supply of dried marijuana from Health Canada while waiting for their production to be ready. The ACMPR permit newly registered persons to register with any of the producers licensed by Health Canada using a copy of their Health Canada registration certificate to obtain starting materials (seeds or plants) for production, and/or an interim supply of fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil while their own production is established.

The ACMPR outlines in more detail the requirements for registered and designated persons upon successful registration, such as production, storage, transportation, and shipping.

The ACMPR also have formulas that indicate how many plants can be grown and how much cannabis can be stored, based on the daily quantity of dried marijuana authorized in the registered person’s medical document.

In general, every one (1) gram of dried marijuana authorized will result in the production of five (5) plants indoors or two (2) plants outdoors. Individuals must indicate in their application whether they intend to produce marijuana plants indoors, outdoors, or partial indoors/partial outdoors. Individuals seeking to produce outdoors must confirm that the production site is not adjacent to a school, public playground, daycare or other public place mainly frequented by children.

Registered and designated persons are required to maintain any measures they think are necessary to protect the security of their cannabis. This could include, for example, installing a home alarm system or securing cannabis in locked cabinets. Health Canada has prepared an information bulletin that highlights the safety and security rules that must be adhered to under the regulations. This document further outlines a number of simple precautions that individuals can take to reduce risks to their health and safety.

Another notable change from the former MMAR is that registered persons, as well as designated persons, will have the ability to alter the dried marijuana they harvest into other products, such as oils. In doing so, individuals are prohibited from using organic solvents (e.g., butane), given the health and safety risks posed by use of these products.

It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure that, in performing any alteration, they stay within the possession limit outlined on the registration certificate. Because the possession limit is articulated in grams of dried marijuana, individuals must manage their limit by taking into account the equivalency of their product to dried marijuana as is outlined in the regulations.

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.

What else remains illegal?

With the introduction of additional options, the ACMPR provide for reasonable access to individuals who require cannabis for medical purposes.

However, activities with cannabis conducted outside of the ACMPR, the NCR or an exemption pursuant to section 56 of the CDSA could be illegal.

Any individual registered to produce a limited amount of cannabis for him/herself may not sell, provide or give cannabis to another person.

It remains illegal for a company or an individual to advertise cannabis to the general public.

FOR MORE DETAILS, PLEASE READ THE FULL RELEASE ARTICLE FROM HEALTH CANADA:

http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/drugs-products-medicaments-produits/understanding-regulations-medical-cannabis-medicales-comprehension-reglements/index-eng.php?_ga=1.227902941.1944122831.1470937016

For more information please contact us or register and we can help facilitate any changes required.

Simcoe Holistic Health Team