If you’d like to read the 1st and/or 2nd edition of, ‘Root Down: History Of Cannabis In Canada’ before you read the below, you can find them both here. 1st Edition & 2nd Edition
In 1999 cannabis became available for medical purposes in Canada due to exemptions found in section 56 under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act. An influential court case, R v. Parker in 2000 upheld that patients deserved access to medical cannabis. Then, in July of 2001 Health Canada allowed for medical use of cannabis under Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). This allowed medical patients to be prescribed cannabis for a variety of treatments under the supervision of their consulting physician. The MMAR was the first solid move towards ending cannabis stigma in Canada, and it brought patients out of the back-alley and into the medical sphere.
In order to qualify to receive cannabis, medical patients had to belong to one of two categories. The first category included those suffering from cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and severe pain from arthritis or injury. The second category was less specific, stating only that cannabis can be prescribed for other conditions than those in category one. Essentially, if a patient is suffering debilitating symptoms, or is in need of end-of-life care, then their doctor can prescribe medical cannabis. Under the MMAR patients could register to grow their own cannabis, have someone grow it for them, or get it from Health Canada’s supply.
In June 2013 the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) which allowed for commercial access to medical cannabis. Two years later in June 2015 the court case R. v. Smith it was decided that cannabis access needed to be broadened to include more than just dried cannabis. Subsequently, the Minister of Health issued 56 class exemptions under the CDSA to allow licensed producers to distribute various other forms of cannabis.
As of August 24, 2016 the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) replaced the MMPR. It contains four parts. Part one outlines parameters for access to medical cannabis through commercial, licensed, production. Part two deals with how patients may produce their own cannabis, or have someone else produce it for them. The last two parts are about transitioning from the MMPR to the ACMPR, expanding definition of medical cannabis, and repealing the MMPR.
Next time we’ll talk about the movement towards recreational legalization, and the current cannabis climate in Canada.
Shasta Nelson is a California Native and a cannabis connoisseur. She's been involved in the industry at every level since she was a teenager. Currently she provides content for Roottie, DOPE Magazine, and Terpenes and Testing. She's also a creative writer, with a graphic novel underway.