The changes revolving around medicinal marijuana in Canada can be difficult to stay current on. Since the early 2000’s, the laws and regulations surrounding the availability of medicinal marijuana to patients in Canada have evolved from something that was done on rare occasions and only for the select few, into what the medicinal cannabis program is today with, over 130 000 Canadians taking part in the program.

With so many patients signing up for the medicinal cannabis program in Canada, many are still confused about what the program entails, what the regulations are and what products are available to them purchase.

The Marijuana Medical Access Regulation (MMAR) came into effect in 2001. This allowed patients with the proper prescription from a physician to access dried marijuana for medical use only. This meant that patients could grow their own cannabis, or they could have someone assigned to grow the cannabis on their behalf. Patients also had the option of purchasing medicinal cannabis directly from Health Canada themselves.

In 2013, changes were implemented to the MMAR that would soon be the beginning of a series of changes through the court system that would make medicinal cannabis more accessible to patients all over the country.

In the summer of 2013, the courts made changes to the already existing MMAR, renaming it Marijuana for Medical Proposes Regulation (MMPR). This allowed for medicinal cannabis to be distributed through the commercial industry. This reassured strict quality control over the dried cannabis that was available to the patient population in Canada. These commercial producers or licenced producers were made responsible for the growing and distributing of dried marijuana under controlled conditions while following the guidelines set out by Health Canada.

In 2015, the regulations changed once again. This time, the Supreme Court of Canada made the decision that restricting patients to only dried cannabis for medical purposes was unethical. The Minister of Health issued an exemption, which allowed licensed commercial producers to produce and distribute medicinal cannabis oils, and cannabis leaves in addition to dried marijuana.

In 2016, the Canadian courts found that Canadians who required cannabis for medicinal use did not yet have reasonable access to medicinal cannabis. Health Canada then began accepting applications from patients for individuals who wish to produce their own limited amount of cannabis for themselves.

Today there are a variety of products available for patients through Canadian licensed producers. While the dried marijuana still remains readily available, patients also have access to medicinal cannabis oils, gel capsules, topical rubs and seeds. With more changes surely along the horizon, it is important that all patients stay current on the most recent regulations for their safety and peace of mind.