Medical marijuana patients can grow 'limited amount' of cannabis at home under new laws
Change comes after Federal Court said old rules were unconstitutional
Canadian medical marijuana patients can grow their own cannabis or get someone to grow it for them under new, expanded rules that come into effect later this month, Health Canada announced Thursday.
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Patients approved for medical marijuana will be able to register with Health Canada to grow a "limited" amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes.
"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," said a department background document.
"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."
They can also designate someone else to grow it for them, for instance if they're not healthy enough to grow their own, granted the other person passes a background check showing they haven't been convicted of a drug offence in the last 10 years and aren't growing for more than two people, themselves included.
The third option is getting it from one of 34 Health Canada-approved producers — the only legal source under the current laws.
Health Canada officials said in a technical briefing Thursday afternoon this "limited amount" people can grow at their home will be linked to the daily amount of cannabis a patient is prescribed.
For example, someone prescribed a gram a day could grow two plants outdoors or five plants indoors to be able to supply themselves, Health Canada said, since plants grown outdoors yield more supply than indoor plants.
The seeds and plants would come from these licensed producers, who could sell an interim supply of cannabis to people as they wait for their homegrown supply to be ready.
The new rules come into effect on Aug. 24.
New rules meet court deadline
A Federal Court judge earlier this year struck down the former Conservative government's 2013 law requiring medical marijuana patients to get their cannabis from licensed producers instead of growing their own.
Judge Michael Phelan said in his Feb. 24 decision those rules that "limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one's own marijuana or choose one's own supplier" restricted patient liberties under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
He gave the federal government six months to come up with new rules.
Phelan also ruled that around 28,000 patients who had been allowed to keep growing their own medical marijuana under a 2014 injunction could continue until these new rules are in place.
Health Canada said Thursday the injunction won't be lifted until it is confident it can handle these thousands of patients coming into the new regulatory system.
The ruling came after a court challenge from four B.C. residents who argued the law was unconstitutional and took away affordable access to medicine.