As of August 24, 2016, the way that Canadians can access cannabis for medical purposes has changed.
If a person wants to use cannabis for medical purposes, the first step is to visit a health care practitioner. A health care practitioner will assess the person to determine if cannabis is an appropriate option for him/her. If the health care practitioner determines that cannabis is an appropriate option, the practitioner would give the person a medical document.
Like a prescription, this document must:
- Be signed by the health care practitioner
- Indicate, among other information, how much dried marijuana the person should take each day (in grams).
There are three ways that a person can obtain cannabis for medical purposes. A person can:
- Buy safe, quality-controlled cannabis from a licensed producer, or
- Register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, or
- Register with Health Canada to designate another person to produce it for him/her.
Licensed producers are individuals or companies licensed by Health Canada to produce and sell cannabis for medical purposes. Licensed producers must meet stringent health and safety security requirements before producing and selling cannabis. When a client seeks cannabis from a licensed producer, he/she places orders by mail, phone or online. Licensed producers are not allowed to sell products in person from a store. Dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil is shipped by mail or courier to the customer. Details on how to register with a licensed producer can be found on the web links below.
When applying to be a licensed producer under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), or when applying to amend a licence, an applicant must notify:
- The municipality
- Local fire officials
- Local law enforcement
Licensed producers must also notify these local authorities, within 30 days, after the issuance of a licence or the renewal, amendment, suspension, reinstatement, or revocation of their licence. These notification requirements are intended to provide local authorities with information about activities with cannabis conducted in their jurisdiction to allow them to take appropriate measures, as applicable.
Licensed producers are expected to obey all relevant federal, provincial and municipal laws and by-laws, including municipal zoning by-laws.
Personal and Designated Production
If a person wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she needs to register with Health Canada. He/she can also choose to designate another person to produce a limited amount of cannabis for him/her. A person can produce a limited number of marijuana plants under a maximum of two registrations (for one other person and him/herself, or two other people). Marijuana plants may be produced under a maximum of four registrations at one address.
A registered or designated person is permitted to produce marijuana plants indoors and/or outdoors, but not both at the same time. If a person wishes to produce marijuana plants outdoors, the boundary of the land on which the production site is located cannot have any points in common with the boundary of the land on which a school, public playground, day care facility or other public place frequented mainly by persons under 18 years of age.
The number of plants a person can grow is determined by the daily amount recommended by their health care practitioner and a set of formulas in the regulations. For reference, Health Canada has provided examples below to help demonstrate how many plants a person would be able to produce and store in different scenarios (i.e., growing indoors, outdoors, or a combination of indoors and outdoors).
- For example, if a health care practitioner recommended 1 gram of dried marijuana per day a person would be registered to grow:
- 5 plants indoors;
- 2 plants outdoors; or
- 4 plants indoors and 1 plant outdoors but plants would not be permitted to be grown indoors and outdoors at the same time.
- If a health care practitioner recommended 3 grams per day a person would be registered to grow:
- 15 plants indoors;
- 6 plants outdoors; or
- 11 plants indoors and 3 plants outdoors but plants would not be permitted to be grown indoors and outdoors at the same time.
A registered or designated person is responsible for taking all necessary measures to ensure the security of the cannabis in his/her possession, in storage, and in his/her production area. Health Canada recommends measures such as:
- Strong locks on the doors to the areas where the registered or designated person produces or stores cannabis, or
- Installing a home monitoring or alarm system.
Health Canada also recommends that registered and designated persons be discreet with their production. Additional restrictions and requirements can be found on the “Information Bulletin” page linked below.
Individuals who are registered with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes are expected to obey all federal, provincial and municipal laws and by-laws.
Health Canada may only share personal information about individuals who are authorized to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes in accordance with applicable privacy legislation. As such, Health Canada may respond to requests from municipal and other local authorities for information.
Specifically, Health Canada is prepared to share aggregate information about the number of registrations for personal-use production or production by a designated person identifying an address for production in a given town or city, as well as a breakdown by postal code where there is sufficient aggregate data. Any information shared with municipalities will be done so in accordance with the Privacy Act.
Municipalities interested in receiving this information may contact Health Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, at 1-866-337-7705.
The ACMPR permit Health Canada to share personal information about registered and designated persons with law enforcement for the purposes of investigations, such as the names of registered and designated persons, the locations where these individuals are permitted to produce and store cannabis and the status of their registration. If you have concerns about whether a person is permitted to produce cannabis, you may wish to contact law enforcement.
Information concerning how plant limits are established, statistics concerning licensed producers and other information about the regulations can be found in the links below.
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