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Marihuana For Medical Purposes In Canada

By Hempology | February 25, 2006

The Director of Corporate and Regulatory Services circulated a copy of the Health Canada report dated January 30, 2006 prepared by Linda dabros and advised Committee that this matter has een recently released to the media. Committee requested that this matter be discussed when Councillor Chandler is present at the next COTW meeting.

Presentation to: the Victoria, BC City Council
By: Linda Dabros
Health Canada

January 30, 2006

-Marihuana Medical Access Regulations
-General Obligations
-Quick Facts
-Vision � The Way Forward

-Marihuana is not approved for therapeutic purposes anywhere in the world.
-HC�s strategy around the supply of marihuana to authorized persons represents an attempt to deal with a number of influences: Court decisions; the 1961 UN Convention; stakeholder views; and legislative issues.
-The Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) provide compassionate access to Canadians suffering from debilitating medical conditions, on the advice of physicians, and when conventional therapies have been considered.
-HC supports research to better understand the safety and efficacy of marihuana for medical purposes.
-A major challenge is to continually balance the need to provide compassionate access, with the requirement to control the use of a controlled substance and an unapproved therapeutic product.

-In response to Court action (i.e., Court of Appeal for Ontario, R. v. Parker, July 2000), the Minister of Health in September 2000, announced the development of new regulations to allow patients access to marihuana for medical purposes.
-On July 30, 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) came into force.
-The MMAR clearly define the circumstances and the manner in which possession and/ or production of marihuana for medical purposes is permitted in Canada.
-The MMAR outline the regulatory framework for authorization to possess and provision of a license to produce.
-On July 9, 2003 in response to the decision of the Ontario Superior Court, the government adopted a policy which provided a licit source, supply, and distribution mechanism for dried marihuana or seeds for medical purposes.
-This policy was entrenched in the MMAR as of December 3, 2003, two Phases of regulatory amendments have been undertaken and a third Phase is forthcoming.
-Regulatory amendments have been made to address stakeholder concerns including patients, physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement.

Medical Marihuana Access Regulations
-Resident of Canada
-Limited to 2 categories of users:
Category 1 � compassionate end of life care: specific symptoms/ conditions listed (e.g., seizures, severe nausea due to cancer)
Category 2 � symptoms of a serious condition not in 1; requires support of one specialist
-Categories are based on current state of evidence
-Onus is on the medical practitioner to assess the patient�s needs and to make a declaration on the application
-Ensures that people with authorization to possess dried marihuana for medical purpose have reasonable access to a legal source of supply.
-Three supply options are available to an authorized person:
Can apply for a license to produce marihuana for his/her own personal use
Can apply to have a designated person licensed to produce marihuana on his/her behalf
Can apply to have access to dried marihuana, grown for Health Canada by Prairie Plant Systems (PPS)
-The amount of marihuana produced by an authorized grower, either for himself or for another, is limited to the amount approved by the medical practitioner.

General Obligations
-Individuals must show proof of authorization or licence when asked by a police officer
-Police have access to a 24 hours a day pager service
-Notification to police (within 24 hours) and to Health Canada in writing (within 72 hours) must be made if card is lost or stolen
-Cards must be returned if amendments are made to authorization or licence
-All existing by-laws must be adhered to
-If cultivation does not take place at the licence holder�s residence or at a place not owned by licence holder, consent must be obtained by property owner(s)

Medical Marihuana Access Regulations
Quick Facts (as of January 2006):
1215 persons authorized to possess marihuana
1196 authorized under the MMAR; 56 exempted under Section56
Cultivation/ Production:
872 persons authorized to cultivate
764 hold a Personal-Use Production License; 94 hold a Designated-Person Production License; 13 are exempted under Section 56
Applications Under the MMAR:
Average of 50 MMAR applications are received monthly.
Accessing Government of Canada supply:
232 authorized persons receive HC product (dried marihuana)

The Way Forward � Towards A �Health Care Model�
-To guide the way forward, HC consulted extensively with stakeholders.
-One of the key recommendations was that every effort should be made in program design to minimize health risks to those authorized to use marihuana for medical purposes.
-A vision consistent with a �health care model� was developed and approved, including the following two main features:
-discontinuance of personal cultivation under the MMAR (phase-out);
-distribution of HC dried marihuana to authorized persons through pharmacies.

The Way Forward � Towards A �Health Care Model�
Benefits of phase-out and pharmacy distribution:
-standardized, quality product;
-less risk of diversion;
-addresses municipalities� concerns about personal cultivation (e.g. adherence to by-laws);
-eliminates environmental hazards related to personal cultivation (e.g. mold);
-monitoring/ inspection would be restricted to a limited number rather than to all those currently licensed to grow;
-closer alignment with UN conventions; and,
-pharmaceutical care is a reliable and integral component of the health care model.

For More Information Contact:
The Marihuana Medical Access Division

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