New regulations set forth by Health Canada will allow patients with a medical marijuana prescription to grow a controlled number of the plants in their own homes starting on August 24th of 2016. The new provisions also include language that allows for medical marijuana patients to designate a third-party grower for themselves. This is to help with patients who may want to grow their own medical cannabis but don’t have the physical ability due to their condition.
A Major Step Forward
Canada Health is replacing the MMPR (Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) with the newly written ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation). The goal of the change in provisions is to allow patients with trouble accessing their medicine a second option for acquiring it. There are several measures that one must meet in order to become a legal grower, including a background check. Medical patients hoping to grow also can not have a drug-related conviction in the previous 10 years. There are currently 34 producers of marijuana in Canada, and those producers will be the only legal source for medical patients to obtain seeds, plants, or any other materials used in the growing process.
Patients will not be able to grow as much medical cannabis as they like. Patients who have received a prescription of one gram per day will be allowed to grow two plants outdoors or five plants indoors. The difference between the number of plants based on the location is due to the fact that outdoor plants generally offer a higher yield than indoor plants. The decision to change the regulations was the result of a single court case in which the Federal Court of Canada decided that the patient in question, Allard, should be allowed greater access to medicine than was currently available. The court gave Health Canada only six months to solve the problem, so they created these new regulations as a sort of temporary bandage.
Many groups have come forward with opinions on the relatively large transition in legality. One organization stated that the new provisions were ideally correct, yet they may not fully solve the issue of availability for all patients. Another issue plaguing those who can’t access their medicine is the financial side of the argument. The fact that cannabis is still primarily illegal creates an inflated value even for medical marijuana that many can’t afford. Other organizations still champion legalizing marijuana recreationally since that would also improve access and price for medical patients. Health Canada was quick to respond to the concerns from the community, stating that the new regulations are not a permanent solution, but merely a stepping stone toward a more comprehensive, long-term solution.