Understanding the New Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations
Table of Contents
The way individuals access cannabis for medical purposes is changing. As of August 24, 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) will replace the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
Legal access to dried marijuana for medical purposes was first provided in 1999 using unique section 56 exemptions under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The decision in R. v. Parker in 2000 held that individuals with a medical need had the right to possess marijuana for medical purposes. This led to the implementation of the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) in 2001. The MMAR enabled individuals with the authorization of their health care practitioner to access dried marijuana for medical purposes by producing their own marijuana plants, designating someone to produce for them or purchasing Health Canada supply.
Over time, court decisions resulted in a number of changes to the MMAR. In June 2013, the Government of Canada implemented the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). The MMPR created conditions for a commercial industry responsible for the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Under the MMPR, individuals with a medical need could access quality-controlled dried marijuana produced under secure and sanitary conditions.
In June 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Smith, decided that restricting legal access to only dried marijuana was unconstitutional. The Court decided that individuals with a medical need have the right to use and make other cannabis products. To eliminate uncertainty around a legal source of supply of cannabis, the Minister of Health issued section 56 class exemptions under the CDSA in July 2015, to allow, among other things, licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds and leaves in addition to dried marijuana, and to allow authorized users to possess and alter different forms of cannabis.
The ACMPR is Canada’s response to the Federal Court of Canada’s February 2016 decision in Allard v. Canada. This decision found that requiring individuals to get their marijuana only from licensed producers violated liberty and security rights protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court found that individuals who require marijuana for medical purposes did not have “reasonable access”.
The ACMPR are designed to provide an immediate solution required to address the Court judgement. Moving forward, Health Canada will evaluate how a system of medical access to cannabis should function alongside the Government’s commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
Overall, the ACMPR contain four parts.
Part 1 is similar to the framework under the MMPR. It sets out a framework for commercial production by licensed producers responsible for the production and distribution of quality-controlled fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil or starting materials (i.e., marijuana seeds and plants) in secure and sanitary conditions.
Part 2 is similar to the former MMAR regime. It sets out provisions for individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.
Parts 3 and 4 include:
- Transitional provisions, which mainly relate to the continuation of MMPR activities by licensed producers
- Consequential amendments to other regulations that referenced the MMPR (i.e., Narcotic Control Regulations, New Classes of Practitioners Regulations) to update definitions and broaden the scope of products beyond dried marijuana
- Provisions repealing the MMPR and setting out the coming into force of the ACMPR on August 24, 2016
As of August 24, 2016, Health Canada will accept applications from individuals who wish to register to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce cannabis for them.
Under the ACMPR, Health Canada will continue to accept and process applications to become a licensed producer that were submitted under the former MMPR. Further, all licences and security clearances granted under the MMPR will continue under the ACMPR, which means that licensed producers can continue to register and supply clients with cannabis for medical purposes. New applicants can continue to apply for licences to produce under the ACMPR.
Health Canada’s role
In administering the ACMPR, Health Canada has two main roles:
- licensing and overseeing the commercial industry; and,
- registering individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes (or to have another individual produce it for them).
With respect to the licensed producers, Health Canada officials will continue to conduct a thorough review of the information on applications to ensure compliance with the regulations and associated Directives (i.e., the Security Directive). Health Canada will also continue to work closely with producers once they are licensed as a means of monitoring and ensuring compliance with the regulations and the CDSA, including through inspections.
As of August 24, 2016, Health Canada will begin to review applications from individuals who have the authorization of their health care practitioner and who wish to register to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes. This will involve reviewing the information submitted to ensure it complies with the regulations, and responding to requests from law enforcement to confirm the validity of a registration certificate.
In administering the regulations, Health Canada officials will work closely with a range of groups, including law enforcement, municipalities, provincial and territorial medical licensing authorities, and health care professionals, as well as Canadians who are interested in using the program.
What it means for health care practitioners
The role of health care practitioners is unchanged by the introduction of the ACMPR. As with the previous regulations, an individual who requires cannabis for medical purposes must first get a medical document from an authorized health care practitioner. Like under the MMPR, the medical document contains similar information to a prescription, including:
- the authorized health care practitioner’s licence information
- the patient’s name and date of birth
- a period of use of up to one (1) year
- a daily quantity of dried marijuana expressed in grams
In a hospital setting, the person in charge of the hospital can allow fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil to be administered to a patient or, sold or provided to a patient or an individual responsible for the patient.
Please refer to the guidance available on the Health Canada website for more information about the authorization of cannabis for medical purposes, including the Daily Amount Fact Sheet (Dosage).
What it means for licensed producers
Part 1 of the ACMPR covers the permitted activities and general responsibilities of licensed producers, including:
- requirements to obtain and maintain a licence
- establishment and personnel security measures
- authorized activities, including good production practices, packaging, shipping, labeling, import and export requirements, and record-keeping requirements
- client registration and ordering requirements
Part 1 includes the requirements of the MMPR and the relevant section 56 CDSA exemptions that responded to the decision in R. v. Smith, enabling the production and sale of fresh marijuana and cannabis oil in addition to dried marijuana.
Newly-permitted activities under the ACMPR include the production and sale of starting materials (i.e., marijuana seeds and plants) to those individuals who have registered under Part 2 to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to have it produced by a designated person, and the ability to sell an interim supply of fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil to registered persons while they wait for their plants to grow.
Licences and licence applications under the ACMPR consolidate the MMPR licence requirements for the production and sale of dried marijuana, the requirements for supplemental licences under the section 56 exemption, and the new requirements for the sale of marijuana seeds and plants.
Other notable changes from the MMPR include:
- New labelling requirements for cannabis oil to include the carrier oil used and for cannabis oil in dosage form to include the number of capsules or units in the container, the net weight, and the volume of each capsule or unit
- New labelling requirements for fresh and dried marijuana to include the percentage of THC and CBD that could be yielded, taking into the account the potential to convert THC-Acid and CBD-Acid into THC and CBD
- Provisions enabling individuals to receive their 30-day supply of cannabis within each 30-day period beginning on the date of the first sale
- Modifying that the accuracy of weight and volume of products in packages must now be between 95% and 105%, as opposed to between 95% and 101%
- Requiring all analytical testing to be done using validated methods (e.g., contaminants, disintegration, and solvent residue testing) and requiring disintegration testing for cannabis oil in capsules or similar dosage forms
- Requiring notification to the Minister of Health prior to commencing a recall
What it means for individuals who require access to cannabis for medical purposes
Individuals with a medical need, and who have the authorization of their health care practitioner, will now be able to access cannabis in three ways: they can continue to access quality-controlled cannabis by registering with licensed producers, they can register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes, or they can designate someone else to produce it for them.
Under the ACMPR, those who are currently registered to purchase from a licensed producer may continue to do so without any interruptions to their supply.
Individuals who do not currently have access to cannabis for medical purposes need to discuss their options with their health care practitioner. The practitioner may complete a medical document if it is decided that cannabis is a good treatment option.
Individuals can then use their medical document to either register with a licensed producer to obtain fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil, or with Health Canada to be able to produce a limited amount of cannabis themselves or designate someone else to produce it for them. As of August 2016, there are 34 licensed producers.
No matter how individuals obtain cannabis (i.e., under Part 1 or 2 of the ACMPR), their possession limit is the lesser of a 30-day supply or 150 grams of dried marijuana or the equivalent amount if in another form.
If an individual wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada. An original medical document from the health care practitioner must be provided and the application must include information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored.
Once successfully registered, the individual will receive a registration certificate from Health Canada. The certificate will include information required for the individual to show his/her legal authority to possess and produce cannabis. It will also include the location and maximum limits of the production and storage activities, as well as the individual’s possession limit.
If an individual chooses to designate another individual to produce a limited amount of cannabis for him/her, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada (similar to if the individual was to produce it him/herself, but with information from the designated person). An original medical document from the health care practitioner and a declaration by the designated person, including information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored, must be provided. The designated person must include a document issued by a Canadian police force proving the individual has not been convicted or received a sentence for a designated drug offence within the 10 previous years. A designated person can only produce for a maximum of two individuals including him/herself.
Once successfully registered, the registered person will receive a registration certificate from Health Canada. The designated person will also receive a document from Health Canada containing information outlining what activities are permitted. The certificate and the document could be used by either the registered person or the designated person, respectively, to demonstrate the legal authority to possess and produce cannabis.
Under the former MMAR, the only option to acquire starting materials was seeds obtained from Health Canada. In addition, individuals who were authorized to possess marijuana for their own medical purposes could only purchase an interim supply of dried marijuana from Health Canada while waiting for their production to be ready. The ACMPR permit newly registered persons to register with any of the producers licensed by Health Canada using a copy of their Health Canada registration certificate to obtain starting materials (seeds or plants) for production, and/or an interim supply of fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil while their own production is established.
The ACMPR outline in more detail the requirements for registered and designated persons upon successful registration, such as production, storage, transportation, and shipping.
The ACMPR also have formulas that indicate how many plants can be grown and how much cannabis can be stored, based on the daily quantity of dried marijuana authorized in the registered person’s medical document.
In general, every one (1) gram of dried marijuana authorized will result in the production of five (5) plants indoors or two (2) plants outdoors. Individuals must indicate in their application whether they intend to produce marijuana plants indoors, outdoors, or partial indoors/partial outdoors. Individuals seeking to produce outdoors must confirm that the production site is not adjacent to a school, public playground, daycare or other public place mainly frequented by children.
Registered and designated persons are required to maintain any measures they think are necessary to protect the security of their cannabis. This could include, for example, installing a home alarm system or securing cannabis in locked cabinets. Health Canada has prepared an information bulletin that highlights the safety and security rules that must be adhered to under the regulations. This document further outlines a number of simple precautions that individuals can take to reduce risks to their health and safety.
If an adult, a registered person who has a designated producer can also participate in all of the activities that the designated person is authorized to conduct. This is a significant change from the former MMAR, which limited the ability of the registered person to take part in production by the designated person.
Another notable change from the former MMAR is that registered persons, as well as designated persons, will have the ability to alter the dried marijuana they harvest into other products, such as oils. In doing so, individuals are prohibited from using organic solvents (e.g., butane), given the health and safety risks posed by use of these products.
The inclusion of provisions enabling the production of products reflects the June 2015 decision in R. v. Smith. It should also be noted that registered clients of licensed producers also have this same ability to alter dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil into other products.
It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure that, in performing any alteration, they stay within the possession limit outlined on the registration certificate. Because the possession limit is articulated in grams of dried marijuana, individuals must manage their limit by taking into account the equivalency of their product to dried marijuana as is outlined in the regulations.
Part 2 of the ACMPR also describes other general measures, such as: how to cancel a registration; cannabis destruction requirements once production has stopped; and, instances in which Health Canada can share information with police or provincial/territorial health care licensing authorities.
What it means for law enforcement
Broadly speaking, the role for law enforcement has not changed. Law enforcement officials have a central role in enforcing the CDSA, including whether individuals who possess, produce, sell or provide and transport, deliver or ship cannabis are operating outside of the ACMPR framework.
Law enforcement officers can contact Health Canada to verify that a licensed producer is in fact licensed or that an individual is a registered person or designated person at any time and on a 24 hour basis.
Similarly, a law enforcement officer may contact a licensed producer to verify whether a person is a client of the producer or a person responsible for the client.
When requested, a police officer must be provided with proof that the possession or production of cannabis is legal. Depending on the situation, this could be a:
- Health Canada-issued producer’s licence
- Health Canada-issued registration certificate
- Health Canada-issued designated person document
- Licensed producer-issued client label
- Licensed producer-issued “separate document” with the same information as a client label
What remains illegal
With the introduction of additional options, the ACMPR provide for reasonable access to individuals who require cannabis for medical purposes.
However, activities with cannabis conducted outside of the ACMPR, the NCR or an exemption pursuant to section 56 of the CDSA could be illegal.
Access to cannabis for medical purposes is only permitted under the terms and conditions set out in the regulations. Storefronts selling marijuana, commonly known as “dispensaries” and “compassion clubs,” are not authorized to sell cannabis for medical or any other purposes. These operations are illegally supplied, and provide products that are unregulated and may be unsafe. Illegal storefront distribution and sale of cannabis in Canada are subject to law enforcement action.
Any individual registered to produce a limited amount of cannabis for him/herself may not sell, provide or give cannabis to another person.
A designated person may not:
- sell, provide or give cannabis to any person, except for the individual for whom he/she is authorized to produce in a registration; and,
- produce cannabis for more than two people registered with Health Canada, including him/herself, for whom he/she is authorized to produce in a registration.
Registered and designated persons may not produce in excess of the maximum limits outlined in a registration certificate.
It remains illegal for a company or an individual to advertise cannabis to the general public.
ARCHIVED – Frequently Asked Questions
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- For Clients
- For Licensed Producers and Licensed Producer Applicants
- For Healthcare Practitioners
- For Police / Law Enforcement
- For Municipalities
How do I find out how much a licensed producer is charging for marijuana?
You must contact the licensed producer directly for pricing information. A list of licensed producers and their contact information is maintained on the List of Authorized Licensed Producers web page on the Health Canada website.
How do I register with a licensed producer using a medical document?
If your healthcare practitioner supports the use of marijuana for medical purposes in your case, he/she must complete a medical document on your behalf.
You must also contact the licensed producer to obtain a registration form, if required, to complete and submit along with your medical document. The registration form and medical document must be submitted directly to the licensed producer. Do not send your medical document or registration form to Health Canada.
For more information, see Procedures for Accessing Marijuana for Medical Purposes.
Are licensed producers only allowed to produce/sell dried marijuana?
Yes. Licensed producers are allowed to provide dried marijuana for medical purposes.
Do licensed producers sell a variety of strains?
Yes. Please contact licensed producers for additional information.
Is the marijuana produced by licensed producers quality controlled?
Licensed producers are required to follow the Technical Specifications for Testing Dried Marihuana for Medical Purposes. This document is available on the Health Canada website and outlines the conditions that must be met for quality assurance. Health Canada inspects licensed producers to ensure they meet the requirements of the regulations, including these specifications.
How much do licensed producers charge per gram?
Licensed producers are responsible for setting their own prices. Please contact licensed producers directly for this type of information.
Is there a limit to how much marijuana I can possess at any point in time?
Yes. Under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations there is a possession cap of either 30 times the daily quantity of dried marijuana indicated by your healthcare practitioner on your medical document, or 150 grams of dried marijuana, whichever is less. You cannot possess or store an amount of marijuana that exceeds this amount.
General Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) Q&A
Are the MMAR still in force?
No. The MMAR were repealed on March 31, 2014; however, as a result of a Federal Court Order granted on March 21, 2014, individuals who were previously authorized to possess and produce marijuana under the MMAR, and who meet the terms of the Court Order, will be able to continue to do so on an interim basis until the Court reaches a final decision. As ordered by the Court, individuals with an Authorization to Possess (ATP) valid on March 21, 2014, may hold a maximum quantity of dried marijuana as specified by their ATP or 150 grams, whichever is less.
Can Personal-Use Production Licence (PUPL) and Designated-Person Production Licence (DPPL) holders continue to grow plants?
If your licence falls under the Federal Court Order, you may be able to continue to grow marijuana plants. The Federal Court Order applies to PUPLs and DPPLs that were valid on or after September 30, 2013, and were connected to a related ATP that was valid on, or after, March 21, 2014. PUPLs and DPPLs that fall under the Court Order will remain in place with the same terms and conditions as identified on their licence. Note that address, number of plants, storage amounts, etc. cannot be changed. Additionally, note that the 150 gram possession cap now applies.
Health Canada does not provide legal advice as to the validity of licences or authorizations under the MMAR. Individuals wishing to determine whether they fall under the Federal Court Order should seek independent legal advice.
My licence was revoked – can I get it back?
If Health Canada has revoked your authorization or licence prior to March 21, 2014, you do not fall within the terms of the Federal Court Order and it cannot be reinstated or reissued. Health Canada will not issue new ones or amend existing ATPs, PUPLs, or DPPLs.
If your ATP was revoked prior to March 21, 2014, the associated PUPL/DPPL cannot be reinstated or reissued.
Will Health Canada provide ATP/PUPL/DPPL paperwork from Health Canada?
If your authorization or licence falls within the terms of the Federal Court Order, Health Canada can send you a reprint of your existing licence. Please note your licence is only extended in accordance with the terms under which it was originally issued (no change of address, number of plants, storage amounts, etc.).
Will Health Canada issue a new ATP/PUPL/DPPL?
Effective March 31, 2014, the MMAR are repealed. Health Canada therefore cannot issue new authorizations or licences under the MMAR. If your authorization or licence falls within the terms of the Federal Court Order, Health Canada can send you a reprint of your existing licence upon request. Dates and addresses will not be amended.
I have a PUPL or DPPL. How does the 150 gram limit apply to me?
Plant and storage amounts remain as noted on your PUPL or DPPL. Under the new regulations, individuals who are registered with a licensed producer may possess the lesser of a 30-day supply of dried marijuana or 150 grams of dried marijuana. As part of the Federal Court Order, an ATP holder may hold a maximum quantity of dried marijuana as specified by their ATP or 150 grams, whichever is less.
I have a valid ATP with Health Canada supply. Does the Federal Court Order apply to me?
Health Canada no longer supplies marijuana for medical purposes.
The Court Order addresses individuals who meet two criteria:
- Individuals must have held a valid ATP under the MMAR on March 21, 2014
- Individuals must have held a valid PUPL or DPPL under the MMAR on, or after, September 30, 2013, AND related ATP valid on, or after March 21, 2014.
If you and your healthcare practitioner determine that you require access to marijuana for medical purposes you may register with a licensed producer. For more information, visit the Procedures for Accessing Marijuana for Medical Purposes web page.
My source of supply is a DPPL. Can I switch my designated person?
No. Your licence is only extended in accordance with the terms under which it was originally issued. If you no longer want your designated person to produce marijuana on your behalf, you may seek to register with a licensed producer under the MMPR.
Can I change my source of supply?
If you are unsatisfied with your source of supply you may seek to register with a licensed producer under the MMPR.
I’ve moved. Can I change my ATP/licence?
No. The MMAR were repealed on March 31, 2014, and Health Canada is no longer processing any new ATPs/licences or amending existing documents.
The licence or authorization is only extended in accordance with the terms under which it was originally issued (address, number of plants, storage amounts, etc.). You cannot transfer your licence or authorization to a different address.
How will I prove to police that I am still allowed to possess/produce marijuana for medical purposes?
You can demonstrate legal possession of marijuana for medical purposes by presenting your ATP/PUPL/DPPL to police. Note that lawful possession/production is limited to what is specified in your ATP/PUPL/DPPL. If the officer is unaware of the injunction order, he/she may call Health Canada to verify certain authorization or licence information.
Can I still buy Health Canada supply?
No. The MMAR were repealed on March 31, 2014, and Health Canada no longer sells marijuana for medical purposes. If you and your healthcare practitioner determine that you require access to marijuana for medical purposes, you may seek to register with a licensed producer. For more information, visit the Procedures for Accessing Marijuana for Medical Purposes web page.
For Licensed Producers and Licensed Producer Applicants
Further guidance and information is available for licensed producers on the Guidance, Directives, Policy, and Information Bulletins web page.
Where can I obtain the application form to become a licensed producer?
The application form and application guidance documents are available on the Licensed Producers web page.
What are the requirements to become a licensed producer?
To become a licensed producer, you must meet all requirements of the MMPR, including but not limited to:
- obtaining the proper personnel security clearances;
- meeting the physical security requirements for the cultivation and storage areas; and
- submitting a completed licensed producer application.
For further information, please refer to the Licensed Producers and the Guidance, Directives, Policy and Information Bulletins web page.
If you have any questions about these requirements or the application process, you can send us your questions by email to MMPR-RMFM@hc-sc.gc.ca or call us toll-free at 1-866-337-7705.
Once complete, your application must be submitted to the following address:
Controlled Drugs Section
Licences and Permits Division
Office of Controlled Substances
Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate
Address Locator: 0300B
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
All relevant sections of the application form must be completed and all required documents must be submitted. An incomplete application will not be processed and will be returned to you.
What activities are permitted under a licence?
A licensed producer may only conduct the activities indicated on their licence. Each licence obtained under the MMPR will specify the activities authorized to be conducted at the site. Authorized activities can include production, sale or provision, possession, packaging and transportation.
The licence will also indicate:
- substances that are authorized;
- maximum quantities of dried marijuana that may be produced, sold or provided;
- maximum dried marijuana inventory at any given time;
- security level of the site; and
- effective date and expiry date of the licence.
In some cases, specific conditions may also be listed on a licence. For more information, visit the Policies, Directives, Guidance and Information Bulletins web page.
What document(s) are required for a licensed producer to register a client?
As a licensed producer, when registering and renewing clients you must ensure:
- an original medical document has been submitted as part of the application for registration;
- the accuracy of the information in the medical document by verifying the information contained on the document with the supporting healthcare practitioner (as per section 110(c) of the MMPR) each time a medical document is received; and
- the documentation of these verifications as part of your record keeping obligations (Part 6 of the MMPR). For more information on the requirement to confirm the validity of the medical document, please reference the Medical Documents information bulletin.
A licensed producer may also require clients to provide additional supporting documentation.
Once my company registers a client who submitted their Authorization to Possess, what do I do with this document?
Once the client has been successfully registered, you must send a copy of the Authorization to Possess document to Health Canada at the following address:
Office of Medical Cannabis
Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch
Address Locator: 0300A
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
Please note that March 31, 2015, was the last date on which a client could register using an ATP in place of a medical document.
If a client is registered by a licensed producer and the healthcare practitioner who signed the medical document has subsequently lost privileges regarding dried marijuana, how will this impact the licensed producer?
In accordance with paragraph 117(1)(e) of the MMPR, all orders must be cancelled from the day that the licensed producer receives the notification from Health Canada. The licensed producer may not continue to ship dried marijuana to any clients who submitted a medical document signed by the healthcare practitioner. The client must find a new healthcare practitioner and initiate a new registration process by submitting a new medical document. Only when the new registration is accepted will the licensed producer will be allowed to sell or provide dried marijuana to the client.
Is there a restriction on how much I can charge patients for dried marijuana?
Licensed producers set their own prices.
What is the maximum quantity that a licensed producer may ship to a client?
An individual who obtains dried marijuana for their own medical purpose or for those of another individual for whom they are responsible must not possess a quantity of dried marijuana that exceeds the limits specified in Section 5 of the MMPR.
What strains of dried marijuana can I cultivate under a production licence?
The MMPR do not specify or limit what strains of dried marijuana can be cultivated.
Can I sell cannabis resins, oils, extractions, and edible marijuana products?
No. The MMPR only permit the sale of dried marijuana.
Can a production site be located outdoors?
Production sites can only be located indoors.
Can I operate a storefront?
Do municipal zoning by-laws apply to my production site?
Licensed producers must comply with all federal, provincial/territorial and municipal laws and by-laws, including municipal zoning by-laws. Licensed producers are required to notify their local government, local police force, and local fire officials of their intention to apply to Health Canada, so that local authorities are aware of their proposed location and activities. Licensed producers are also required to communicate with local authorities whenever there is a change in the status of their licence.
For more information, reference the Compliance with Local Laws information bulletin.
When do I need to renew my licence?
Licensed producers should apply to renew their licence a minimum of three months before the licence is set to expire. A licensed producer cannot conduct activities involving cannabis without a valid licence.
For Healthcare Practitioners
What evidence is available concerning the use of marijuana for medical purposes?
Please refer to the document entitled Information for Healthcare Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the Cannabinoids for the latest information on the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
How does my patient access marijuana?
Using a medical document completed by their healthcare practitioner, your patient must send the original medical document to a licensed producer with a registration form (provided by the licensed producer). The licensed producer will fill and ship your patient’s order, based on the daily amount of dried marijuana indicated on the medical document.
What is the difference between Form B and a medical document?
Form B “Medical Practitioner’s Form” is the outdated document under the old regulations and should not be used.
Are there daily amount and duration restrictions under the MMPR?
Various surveys published in peer-reviewed literature suggest that the majority of people using inhaled or orally-ingested cannabis for medical purposes are using less than 3 grams of cannabis per day. Please refer to the Health Canada Daily Amount Fact Sheet (Dosage) for additional information.
While there are no restrictions under the MMPR on the daily amount that you may recommend, there is a possession cap of the lesser of 150 grams or 30 times the daily amount.
The medical document must be completed annually (or sooner if you recommend a shorter duration) to ensure that you continue to support your patient’s use of marijuana.
Please consult Information for Healthcare Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the Cannabinoids for further information.
What routes of administration can I recommend for my patient?
Please consult Information for Healthcare Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the Cannabinoids for further information.
Typically, dried marijuana is inhaled. Smoking is not recommended. Some individuals use their dried marijuana with a vaporizer or in teas.
Is there information available that indicates which strains are better suited to certain conditions?
Please consult Information for Healthcare Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the Cannabinoids for further information.
Will dried marijuana be assigned a Drug Identification Number (DIN)?
Drugs are authorized for sale in Canada (and receive a DIN) once they have successfully gone through the drug review process. This process is the means by which Health Canada scientists review a drug application to assess the safety, efficacy, and quality of a drug in order to make sure the drug meets the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and its regulations. With the exception of Sativex® and Cesamet®, which have received Notices of Compliance authorizing their sale as therapeutic products in Canada, scientific studies do not demonstrate that marijuana is safe and effective for medical use to the extent required by the Food and Drug Regulations for marketed drugs in Canada. Except with respect to the above-mentioned drugs, at present no applicants have obtained approval under the FDA and its regulations, with respect to marijuana. As such, there can be no DIN associated with marijuana for medical purposes. However, marijuana for medical purposes is legally accessible by registering directly with a licensed producer under the terms of the MMPR.
Where can I obtain information on the product my patient is considering?
You may contact the licensed producer(s) directly to obtain information about the strain(s) of dried marijuana available. Each product label must include the percentage of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and percentage of Cannabidiol (CBD) in the lot and batch that is being sold.
A list of licensed producers and their contact information is maintained on the Licensed Producers web page.
Please consult Information for Healthcare Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the Cannabinoids, which contains updated information on the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
For Police / Law Enforcement
Is Health Canada issuing new licences under MMAR?
As of April 1, 2014, Health Canada is not issuing further licences to individuals. If an ATP was revoked, the associated PUPL/DPPL does not fall within the terms of the Federal Court Order.
Does the police service line still work?
The police service line will continue to operate.
Who can I contact if I am investigating someone who may or may not be authorized under the MMPR?
If an individual presents you with the packaging or a document included in their order of dried marijuana from a licensed producer, you may contact the licensed producer to confirm the registration and the daily quantity of dried marijuana. The licensed producer must confirm that you are a member of a Canadian police force, and the information must be requested in the context of an investigation under the CDSA or the MMPR, and you must provide the name of the individual, the date of birth, and the gender.
Is there a limit to the amount of dried marijuana someone can carry on their person under the MMPR?
Yes. The MMPR impose a maximum possession cap of the lesser of 150 grams of dried marijuana or 30 times their daily authorized amount at any one time. For example, if an individual has a daily amount of 2 grams per day, their possession cap would be 60 grams.
As well, as ordered by the Court, individuals with an ATP valid on March 21, 2014, may hold a maximum quantity of dried marijuana as specified by their ATP or 150 grams, whichever is less.
Are licensed producers subject to local legislation and by-laws?
Licensed producers must comply with all federal, provincial/territorial and municipal laws and by-laws, including municipal zoning by-laws. Licensed producers are required to notify their local government, local police force, and local fire officials of their intention to apply to Health Canada, so that local authorities are aware of their proposed location and activities. Licensed producers are also required to communicate with local authorities whenever there is a change in the status of their licence. Health Canada inspects for compliance with the MMPR, the Narcotic Control Regulations, and other related regulations under the CDSA.
For more information, reference the Compliance with Local Laws information bulletin.
Can municipalities stop the licensing process if they disagree with the proposed site of production or any other requirement?
Local authorities can communicate any concerns directly to the production site owner and enforce local legislation and by-laws.
For more information, reference the Compliance with Local Laws information bulletin.
Can compassion clubs dispense for a licensed producer?
No. Licensed producers must ship dried marijuana directly to the client, to an individual responsible for the client, or to the client’s healthcare practitioner (if indicated).
Fact Sheet: Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations
On August 11, 2016, Health Canada announced the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). These new regulations will replace the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) when they come into force on August 24, 2016, and are being implemented as a result of the Federal Court ruling in the case of Allard v. Canada. These new regulations will allow for reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes for Canadians who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by their health care practitioner.
What has changed under the ACMPR?
The largest single change is the introduction of provisions that will allow Canadians who need access to cannabis for medical purposes to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or designate someone to produce it for them. Health Canada believes that the addition of these provisions enabling individuals to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes will provide for accessibility and affordability, and address the issue of reasonable access identified by the Federal Court.
What does this mean for health care practitioners?
The ACMPR do not change the role of health care practitioners in Canada in the administration of this program. Health care practitioners remain responsible for authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Updated guidance for health care practitioners can be found on Health Canada’s website that may aid in determining the proper daily amount/dose for patients requiring cannabis for medical purposes. Several provincial health care regulatory authorities and the College of Family Physicians of Canada have also issued guidelines or guidance for health care practitioners.
What does this mean for patients?
Individuals authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by a health care practitioner will continue to have the option of purchasing safe, quality-controlled cannabis from one of the 34 producers licensed by Health Canada. They will also have the option of producing a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or designating someone to produce it for them.
With the appropriate medical document from their health care practitioner, individuals can apply to register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.
With registration, individuals will be allowed to produce a limited number of plants based on a formula that takes into account the individual’s daily dose (i.e. quantity authorized by their physician) and the average yield of a plant under certain growing conditions, such as indoor or outdoor growing.
Individuals who were previously authorized to possess and/or produce marijuana under the former Marihuana Medical Access Regulations and who meet the terms of the Federal Court injunction order may continue to do so until the Court orders otherwise. Individuals covered by the injunction who wish to change the terms of their license, such as a change in address or designated producer, will be able to do so by registering with Health Canada under the new regulations.
Additional information on how to register, including forms, will be available on Health Canada’s website on August 24. If you have any questions, please visit the Health Canada website or call toll-free at 1-866-337-7705 or email email@example.com.
What does this mean for Licensed Producers (LP)?
The 34 Licensed Producers across Canada, which are currently supplying close to 70,000 Canadians, are expected to continue to be the main source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes. In addition to continuing to provide access to dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil, these licensed producers will now also be the only legal source of starting materials (seeds or plants) and interim supply to individuals who are registered with Health Canada to produce or who have designated someone to produce for them, a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.
Do the regulations allow storefront operations?
No. Access to cannabis for medical purposes is only permitted under the terms and conditions set out in the regulations. Storefront operations selling marijuana, commonly known as “dispensaries” and “compassion clubs” are not authorized to sell cannabis for medical or any other purposes. These operations are illegally supplied, and provide products that are unregulated and may be unsafe. Illegal storefront distribution and sale of cannabis are subject to law enforcement action. The only legal commercial source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes in Canada is through purchase directly from one of the 34 producers licenced by Health Canada.
Is Health Canada contemplating other changes? What do these regulations mean in terms of the Government’s commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana?
These regulations provide an immediate solution that is necessary to address the issue of reasonable access identified by the Federal Court within the six month deadline that the Court provided. These changes should not be interpreted as being the longer-term plan for the regulation of access to cannabis for medical purposes, which is presently being determined as part of the Government’s commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
These new regulations will continue to be evaluated to ensure that individuals authorized to access cannabis for their own medical purposes have reasonable access. Health Canada is also committed to studying other models, including pharmacy distribution, to provide access to cannabis for medical purposes.
Procedures for Accessing Cannabis for Medical Purposes from a Licensed Producer
The following steps outline the process to obtain cannabis for medical purposes from a licensed producer under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).
Health Canada maintains an updated list of all licensed producers on its website. Health Canada does not authorize the operation of retail storefronts, such as “compassion clubs” or “dispensaries”.
To register with a licensed producer under the ACMPR, you need to follow the following steps:
- Step 1: Consult with a Health Care Practitioner
- Step 2: Obtain a Medical Document completed by your Health Care Practitioner
- Step 3: Register and Order with a Licensed Producer
- Step 4: Delivery of your Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Step 1: Consult with a Health Care Practitioner
Treatment decisions are best made in consultation with your health care practitioner.
Under the ACMPR, an authorized health care practitioner includes physicians in all provinces and territories, and nurse practitioners in provinces and territories where supporting cannabis for medical purposes is permitted under their scope of practice.
Step 2: Obtain a Medical Document from your Health Care Practitioner
You will need to obtain a medical document from your practitioner.
The following information must be included on the medical document signed and dated by the health care practitioner:
- your full name;
- your date of birth;
- address where you consulted with the practitioner;
- daily grams of dried marijuana you are authorized to use, the period of use (i.e. number of days, weeks or months), which cannot exceed one year from the date the medical document is signed by the healthcare practitioner;
- the healthcare practitioner’s name and, administrative information (profession, licence number, province of licence, business address, phone number, fax number and email address, if applicable); and
- an attestation by the healthcare practitioner that the information contained in the document is correct and complete.
Step 3: Register and Order with a Licensed Producer
Once you have obtained a medical document from your authorized healthcare practitioner, you can register as a client with the licensed producer of your choice. To register, you will need to submit certain information, including the original medical document. Please contact the licensed producer for further information regarding application requirements.
After registering as a client, you will be able to order cannabis for medical purposes from the licensed producer.
Do not send your medical document to health canada
Step 4: Shipping of your Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Your cannabis will be sent to you directly by the licensed producer. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) prohibits possession, trafficking, import and export, and production of controlled substances, including marijuana, unless authorized by regulations. Neither the ACMPR nor any other Health Canada regulations authorize licensed producers to provide cannabis for medical purposes through a storefront.
Possession of Cannabis for Medical Purposes:
The amount of dried marijuana you can possess is the lesser of thirty times the daily amount stipulated by your healthcare practitioner or 150 grams. For example, if your healthcare practitioner recommends 3 grams per day, you would be allowed a maximum of 90 grams at any one time (30 days × 3 grams). However, if your healthcare practitioner recommends 6 grams per day, you would be allowed to possess a maximum of 150 grams at any one time, which would therefore be less than a 30-day supply.
Showing Proof of Legal Possession of Cannabis for Medical Purposes:
If asked by law enforcement, you can demonstrate that you are in legal possession of cannabis for medical purposes obtained from a licensed producer by showing either the label on the package containing your specific client information or the separate document containing the same information which accompanied your shipment of cannabis.