Medical Marijuana in Canada

Early marijuana aws in Canada to make possession, use, distribution and cultivation illegal were less strenuous than those in both England and the US. Concerns about the severity of marijuana's side effects and dangers of abuse were not as impacted by world policy until the late 1930s.

Decriminalization of marijuana in Canada has been a hot-topic issue for the country for many years. The political ups and downs of those who govern the nation have been reflected in proposed legislation about marijuana, with little change seen, except that of its stance on medical marijuana in this new century.

In the early 2000s, Americans who wanted medical marijuana and could not obtain it legally in the US were seeking asylum under the United Nations refugee convention. These individuals fled the US after a crackdown on medical marijuana by U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

Allowed Usage

Revisions in the Public Health laws in Canada have been toward the acceptance of the medical benefits marijuana may provide to those who suffer from certain ailments and the relief provided. Changing worldview about the use of medical marijuana has allowed the entire Canadian nation to embrace open use of medical marijuana. Health Canada regulations, established in Canada in July, 2001, stipulate two categories of those who are eligible for prescriptions for medical marijuana.

Category 1: Physicians were instructed to prescribe medical marijuana “as they were comfortable” with its benefits and uses for treating ailments that may be considered compassionate care for those symptoms associated with severely painful conditions such as: spinal cord injury or disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer, arthritis or from multiple sclerosis, persistent muscle spasms from any of the same conditions, cachexia (wasting disease), anorexia or weight loss, and epilepsy.

Category 2: Prescriptions cover those patients who have debilitating symptoms of those medical circumstances that are not covered under Category 1. These conditions must be recognized and supported by medical practitioners. Also covered under Health Canada are those patients who suffer end-of-life and debilitating symptoms not otherwise mentioned above.

Forms used for prescribing medical marijuana are kept confidentially between the Health Canada agency, the medical practitioner and the patient.

Getting Medical Marijuana in Canada

In June 2013, there was a controversial reversal in the legal status of medical marijuana in Canada, when the health minister declared that beginning in April 2014, growing medical marijuana for personal use by those who held legal prescriptions would be illegal.

This new legislation has far-reaching implications for many thousands of persons who now utilize their prescriptions by growing their own in home settings, which was previously permitted. The control of these growers is a problem, due to the growth of the industry since 2001. At the time it was implemented, there were approximately 500 patients with legal license to use and possess medical marijuana in Canada. In 2013, there are more than 30,000 patients. Regulating growth is now not possible with these numbers. The new laws will implement a system whereby government agencies will license and regulate mail order systems to provide medical marijuana to all who have legal claims. This is the same system that is currently in place for those who are unable to grow it themselves. It will now apply to all medical marijuana users and will increase costs as well. For obvious reasons, this is an unpopular decision; but is being defended as a move to ensure greater public safety for Canadian citizens.

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updated: August 2013

 
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