Health Canada plans to treat marijuana like other medicines
Individuals would no longer be permitted to grow their own
A proposal released by Health Canada would treat medical marijuana more like medicine and effectively commercialize its production and distribution.
"Current medical marijuana regulations have left the system open to abuse," Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq stated in a press release on Sunday.
She said the proposed Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) would help control illegal activity, while also allowing easier access for those patients who have genuine medical needs.
"These changes strike the right balance between patient access and public safety," she said
Essentially, the new system will create licensed grow-ops that people could shop at, provided they have a prescription from their doctor. The regulations would allow for a regulated commercial market of licensed producers.
Currently, those who wish to use medical marijuana must apply for a permit from the government in order to either grow it themselves or buy it from a single government grower.
Adam Greenblatt, executive director of the Montreal-based Medical Cannabis Society (MCAS), said his organization advised Health Canada on the new regulations last summer.
"Unfortunately, they didn't take all of our counsel, which would have resulted in a far more patient-friendly regime," he stated.
Among its proposals, the MMPR suggests the price of medical marijuana should rise to $8.80 per gram. It currently it ranges from $1.80 to $5 per gram.
The regulation also says it would no longer permit individuals to grow their own marijuana, a move that Greenblatt says is unfair.
"For many patients who grow their own, this is one step forward and two steps back," he said.
Despite some issues, Greenblatt remained optimistic. He said the merging of a social justice movement with the commercial sector will undoubtedly be a "bumpy ride."
"Creating a commercial marketplace is ostensibly progressive," he added.
Highlights from the proposed regulations:
- Elimination of production of marijuana by individuals in their homes.
- An end to Health Canada's role in authorizing the production, possession, supplying and distributing of marijuana.
- Establishment of a regulated commercial market for licensed producers.
- Patients would no longer be required to apply to Health Canada and submit their personal medical information to the government.
- Patients would obtain a medical document (similar to a prescription) and purchase marijuana directly from the producer.
- Individuals would not be required to consult a specialist in addition to their normal health care practitioner.
The proposed regulations are expected to come into force in the spring.
Details of the new regulations will be available on Health Canada's website and the public can weigh in during a 75-day comment period, which ends on Feb. 28, 2013.
Health Canada proposes changes to medical marijuana system
VANCOUVER -- Ottawa's decision to snuff its role in dispensing medical marijuana has ignited a debate over how the move will impact public health and safety.
Groups representing interests from law enforcement to doctors were reacting Sunday after the federal health ministry announced it will stop producing and distributing medical marijuana in favour of opening the market to private companies.
The Canadian Medical Association says the government is abdicating its role as regulator, leaving doctors to deal with a substance that has little clinical evidence to back its use.
A not-for-profit that supports cannabis dispensaries in communities says it too is reluctant to endorse the change because it means the drug remains unaffordable to those who need it, while another grassroots coalition is seeking support for a legal challenge which aims to label the government's changes as unconstitutional.
Associations representing Canadian fire chiefs and police chiefs, however, lauded the changes as a way to reduce the number of illegal grow-ops and gang exploitation of pot.
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says she believes the changes, set to be fully implemented by March 31, 2014, strike the right balance between pot access for patients and public safety.
Edited by key2thecup, 16 December 2012 - 04:17 PM.