New Rules on Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes

The new rules allow individuals authorized by their health care practitioner to register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.

On August 11, Health Canada announced the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which will replace the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). The ACMPR are now in force (as of August 24, 2016). These regulations are only applicable for medicinal use—recreational marijuana possession remains illegal for the time being.

What You Need To Know

While the federal government continues to work on determining what a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana would look like (with the stated aim of introducing legislation on the "legalization and strict regulation of marijuana" in spring 2017), there is now some clarity around access to medicinal marijuana.1 In particular, the ACMPR will provide individuals who have been authorized by a health care practitioner to use cannabis for medical purposes with the following options:

  • Option 1: A limited amount of cannabis may be produced by an individual for his/her own medical use. This "limited amount" will be based on an individual's daily dose as authorized by the individual’s physician. 

    • An individual seeking to produce a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes must submit an application to register with Health Canada. An original medical document from a health care professional must be provided along with the application, as well as information on where the cannabis will be produced and stored.
    • Once successfully registered, an individual will receive a registration certificate that will set out the limited number of plants that may be produced. This number is calculated through a formula that takes into account the individual’s daily dose (as authorized by the individual's physician) and the average yield under certain growing conditions. Once registered, an individual may purchase starting materials (i.e., cannabis seeds or plants), but only from one of the Health Canada licensed producers across Canada.2
  • Option 2An individual may designate someone else to produce the cannabis for them. 
    • If an individual chooses to designate someone else to produce a limited amount of medical cannabis on his/her behalf, a registration application must be submitted to Health Canada in which the information provided (which is the same as required in Option 1 above) relates to the "designated person." Such a "designated person" may only produce cannabis for a maximum of two individuals.
  • Option 3: Cannabis may continue to be purchased from licensed cannabis producers.
    • Individuals may continue to have the option of purchasing cannabis from one of the  Health Canada-licensed cannabis producers. All licenses and security clearances granted under the MMPR will continue under the ACMPR, which means that licensed producers can continue to register and supply clients with cannabis for medical purposes.

Regardless of how an individual obtains cannabis, the possession limit is the lesser of a 30-day supply or 150 grams of dried marijuana. Note that the ACMPR does not authorize storefronts (i.e., dispensaries) to sell cannabis or marijuana for medical or any other (e.g. recreational) purposes.  

By way of additional background, the ACMPR is Health Canada's response to the Federal Court of Canada’s (the Court) February 2016 decision in Allard v. Canada.3 The Court ruled that the MMPR's requirement that individuals may only obtain medicinal marijuana from licensed producers was a violation of their liberty and security rights as protected under section 7 of the Canadian Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

What’s Next

According to Health Canada, the ACMPR is an immediate solution to address the issue of reasonable access as identified by the Court. As discussed above, industry stakeholders should be aware that the ACMPR does not reflect Health Canada’s long-term plan for the regulation of recreational access to cannabis. To that end, the federal government recently announced the creation of a "Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation," which will study the design of a new regulatory framework around marijuana legalization. The task force is expected to present its findings in a final report in November 2016.4

_________________________

1 Department of Justice – “Questions and Answers” may be accessed at the following link:  http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/marijuana/faq.html. 

2 The list of authorized licensed producers of cannabis may be accessed at the following link:http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/list-eng.php.

3 2016 FC 236.

4 “Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation” may be accessed at the following link: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/task-force-marijuana-groupe-etude/index-eng.php?_ga=1.100749249.1903878072.1447949273.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

For permission to republish this or any other publication, contact Janelle Weed.

© 2017 by Torys LLP.
All rights reserved.

Tags: