Getting your Medical Marijuana Card in Canada
After 2001, Canada has established a new medical marijuana program, which was officially put into action on April 1st 2014. This program allows regulated firms to grow and sell medical marijuana. Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) put forward by patients, doctors and business owners with regard to the legislations mentioned in the program.
• When did medical marijuana become legal in Canada?
Medical marijuana became legal in 2000. A landmark court overturned the ruling, which was based on “Prohibition of Marijuana” regarding medical purposes. From there on, Health Canada has been forced by many court decisions to adapt and create federal laws that facilitate patients to buy marijuana at local drug stores.
• What is the meaning of MMPR?
MMPR is an abbreviation for the term ‘Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations’. These are the new rules established for selling, buying and growing marijuana in Canada. The program dictates how large-scale companies, patients and doctors can secure medical marijuana. Anyone who is given a license is allowed to sell medical marijuana legally and is known as a licensed producer.
MMPR is the first attempt made by Health Canada for the commercial production and distribution of medical marijuana. MMPR replaces the former rules of Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), which were officially cancelled on March 31, 2014.
• What was MMAR?
MMAR (Marijuana Medical Access Regulations) was the first program that outlined a method for non-commercial growers, patients and doctors to grow medical marijuana. It allowed patients to either grow marijuana for themselves, or allowed another individual to grow it for them. Under the guidelines stated by MMAR, the only other source where patients could buy medical marijuana was Health Canada.
• Why was MMAR replaced by MMPR?
After Health Canada was pressurized by the courts to improve the access to marijuana, MMPR was established, giving patients several product choices in medical marijuana to choose from. Furthermore, Health Canada wanted to ban any legal marijuana home grower, but the controversial idea was temporarily overturned due to a court injunction.
• How do I apply for a MMPR program? How do I get my Medical Marijuana card?
Patients in need of medical marijuana do not have to contact Health Canada. The responsibility of authorizing medical marijuana now falls with the doctors. If a patient wishes to purchase marijuana from a licensed producer for medical purposes, then he or she must possess a medical document that is very much identical to a medical prescription. Find out how!
• How many people use medical marijuana in Canada?
Around 40,000 patients in Canada are using marijuana for medical purposes. In the next ten years, it is estimated that this number will reach almost 400,000.
The majority of patients received their medical document to buy marijuana under the MMAR program. Even though the MMAR has now been replaced by MMPR, patients having the old document can also sign up with new licensed producers and can still buy medical marijuana.
Frequently Asked Questions by Doctors
• What role do the doctors play in the MMPR program?
Under the rules dictated by MMPR, doctors have been appointed as the sole providers of medical marijuana. Only a nurse practitioner or a doctor can provide a patient with medical marijuana, but only if the patient possesses a medical document.
• What exactly does the medical document contain?
The medical document, which is quite similar to a medical prescription, outlines certain basic points, such as:
• The amount of marijuana that can be taken daily
• The conditions under which a patient can be treated using medical marijuana
• A sample of the medical document can be viewed at Health Canada’s website.
• How many doctors support medical marijuana?
In the past, over 5,000 doctors have given written recommendation for using medical marijuana. This amounts to 7% of the total doctors in Canada.
• What are the conditions under which marijuana may be prescribed to patients?
In MMPR, no official diseases are mentioned for which medical marijuana may be prescribed. However, under MMAR, certain categories were created where only those patients who were suffering from severe diseases would be allowed support from various doctors.
Frequently Asked Questions by Patients
• How can I obtain a medical document?
You may obtain a medical document from a:
• Family Physician
• Specific clinic that prescribes medical marijuana
Some physicians and clinics offer both online and in-person appointments. However, sometimes a patient may have to pay a little extra to avail these services. For example, an online appointment costs around $400 dollars.
• Where can I buy marijuana?
Under the MMPR, legally, only licensed producers can sell medical marijuana. MMPR prohibits dispensaries and storefronts from selling marijuana, concluding that all sales must take place via the phone or online. Orders are delivered by mail.
• Under what price is medical marijuana sold?
Under MMPR laws, prices can be controlled by the licensed producers. Current prices range from $5 to $12 dollars per gram. Discounts are offered to low-income patients. It is presumed that in the future, as the program matures, prices may be lowered.
• Am I allowed to buy tinctures, edibles and other forms of marijuana?
Under MMPR, only dried medical marijuana can be sold, therefore all other forms are prohibited.
• Can I grow my own medical marijuana?
MMPR prohibits growing marijuana personally. Only licensed producers are allowed. However, this law has been reversed temporarily by a provincial court injunction. Under this ruling, people with a license from the MMAR program can grow marijuana until a trial is conducted. The trial will allow residential people to grow marijuana within their homes. This trial is scheduled to take place in 2015.
• How can I find the correct strain?
No official guidelines on which kind of strain is better for which conditions currently exists. However, some licensed producers provide strain recommendations according to the patient’s feedback.
• Who are Licensed Producers?
Licensed Producers are companies that are authorized to sell and grow medical marijuana. The authorization is provided by Health Canada under the rules stated in MMPR.
Many of these producers are entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds or other related companies.
• What are the numbers of Licensed Producers working in Canada?
Since April 1, 2014, 14 licensed producers are now active in Canada. They are registered on the website of Health Canada as well. By 2024, Health Canada predicts that MMPR will generate around $1.3 billion dollars. The cannabis industry has also become extremely competitive. In the last year, Health Canada received more than 1000 applications from potential licensed producers.
• How do I register with a Licensed Producer?
Once you have a medical document, you can choose your own licensed producer. Each registration process is different but normally involves submitting a form after which the medical document is validated.
• Is signing up with two Licensed Producers possible?
It is a complicated process, but yes, it can be done. Patients can register with various licensed producers, but for each registration a different medical document needs to be submitted. Doctors then issue more than one medical document and the prescribed marijuana is distributed between the doctors.
• Am I allowed to become a Licensed Producer?
One may become a licensed producer by applying to Health Canada. However, it is a time consuming and expensive process, since the selling and growing of marijuana requires a huge investment.
• Where does Health Canada stand regarding medical marijuana?
Health Canada states:
“We do not endorse the use of marijuana.”
“Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine.”
Since courts require that a legal source must be present to access medical marijuana, federal programs have been created to prohibit marijuana abuse.
• Why does marijuana not fall in the approved drug category?
Like the FDA, Health Canada holds the responsibility of approving and reviewing all new drugs. Normally, a pharmaceutical company is required to submit extensive clinical data for the approval of a drug. According to Health Canada, marijuana is still not prescribed as a medical drug because:
“It has not yet gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy or safety.”
Even though data exists, no government agency or company has yet funded extensive trials on marijuana. Hence, the use of the drug still remains controversial.
• Does Health Canada provide any resources regarding medical marijuana?
Health Canada, along with MMPR, recently published an article stating evidence that marijuana may very well be used for various treatments and as a medicine. This review is available on Health Canada’s website, covering everything from adverse effects, precautions, potential therapeutic uses and dosages.
Currently, Health Canada is working on providing a document on marijuana titled:
“To Help Support Doctors and Nurse Practitioners in Making Decisions Regarding Medical Marijuana”.
• What are the initiatives undertaken by Health Canada?
An initiative was announced by Health Canada on March 31 2014, that states:
“Address Common Concerns around the Use of Marijuana as a Treatment”
This initiative covers working with provincial doctors, licensed producers, and nurse-licensing bodies where, “How doctors and nurse practitioners authorize the use of marijuana” will be monitored.