By Jasminee Sahoye
Canadians who use marijuana for medical purposes will no longer be able to produce the herbs in their homes as new regulations will be out next week in the Canada Gazette.
Under the new regulation, the government will no longer produce or distribute medical pot and medical marijuana users will no longer be allowed to grow the product at home.
Health Canada said since the medical marijuana program was introduced in 2001, it has expanded to 30,000 people from the original 500 authorized to use the product.
“This rapid increase has had unintended consequences for public health, safety and security as a result of allowing individuals to produce marijuana in their homes,” the department said in a news release.
Under the new regulations, the government will allow patients to buy prescribed amounts only from licensed growers who will be required to meet strict conditions.
The new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, on June 19, 2013.
“While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to a legal source of marihuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion in order to protect public safety,” said Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq. “These changes will strengthen the safety of Canadian communities, while making sure patients can access what they need to treat serious illnesses.”
The new regulations aim to treat marihuana as much as possible like other narcotics used for medical purposes. The regulations will provide access to quality-controlled marihuana for medical purposes, produced under secure and sanitary conditions, to those Canadians who need it.
The regulations will also streamline the process for applicants and health care practitioners. Under the new regime, individuals will not be required to provide personal medical information to Health Canada. Health care practitioners will be able to sign a medical document enabling patients to purchase the appropriate amount related to their conditions directly from a Licensed Producer approved by Health Canada.
In order to facilitate the transition from the current program to the new regime, both will operate concurrently until March 31, 2014. Effective April 1, 2014, Health Canada will no longer produce and distribute marihuana for medical purposes. The current Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) will be repealed on March 31, 2014, when the new regime is fully implemented.