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Backgrounder - Proposed Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations - Transitioning to a New System

News Release - Harper Government Announces Proposed New Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations - Changes improve public safety, maintain patient access

The Minister of Health has announced proposed regulations that would change the way Canadians access marihuana for medical purposes. These proposed changes will not be finalized until the proposed Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) come into force (expected in spring 2013). Until that time, individuals will continue to obtain authorization under the current Marihuana Medical Access Program.

Here are some key dates in the transition to the new system:

Winter 2012

  • Health Canada, through Public Works and Government Services Canada, will keep its contract with Prairie Plant Systems for the production and distribution of marihuana for medical purposes. This contract will run until March 31, 2014, and will make sure that program participants who choose to purchase dried marihuana from Health Canada will continue to have access to a legal supply of marihuana for medical purposes during the transition period.
  • Health Canada will inform interested parties that they may apply to become authorized to conduct certain research and development activities with marihuana now, including testing plant materials and growing conditions. These activities could help potential licensed producers to be ready to apply for a licence as soon as the proposed regulations come into force.

Spring 2013

  • The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) are expected to come into force.
  • In order to facilitate the transition from the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP) to the MMPR, both would operate concurrently from the time the new regulations come into force until March 31, 2014. During that time, individuals could choose to continue to access marihuana for medical purposes under the MMAP or order directly from a licensed producer (as soon as they are approved by Health Canada).
  • Individuals would be allowed to use their Health Canada-issued authorization to possess or the medical declaration signed by their physician, for up to one year, to register with a licensed producer and place an order for dried marihuana from a licensed producer. This would help make sure that patients can access dried marihuana and it would not be interrupted when the current program comes to an end.
  • Once the first established licensed producers have set a price for dried marihuana, Health Canada will align the price of its own supply.

October 1, 2013

  • For authorized users under the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP), this system would begin to wind down. Health Canada would no longer accept new applications under the MMAP for production licences or applications to change the location of a production site. This is because the time required to obtain seeds and produce a viable crop of marihuana for medical purposes is approximately six months and all production under the current program must end on March 31, 2014.
  • Health Canada would continue to renew personal use and designated production licences under the current MMAP.
  • Health Canada's supply would be available until March 31, 2014. Supply provided by approved licensed producers, will also be available after the coming into force of the MMPR and will be the only source of supply after March 31, 2014.
  • For new applicants, after October 1, 2013, individuals requiring access to marihuana for medical purposes who do not already hold a valid production licence for a given site would either have to obtain dried marihuana from Health Canada (until March 31, 2014 only), or go directly to an approved licensed producer.

April 1, 2014

  • The new system is expected to be fully implemented and the MMAP would end.
  • All authorizations to possess and licences to produce issued under the current program would expire. Holders of personal use and designated person production licences would no longer be allowed to grow their own crop.
  • Health Canada would no longer produce or sell marihuana for medical purposes.
  • All individuals requiring access to marihuana for medical purposes would have to obtain it from a licensed producer. This competitive industry would set its own prices, choose to sell a variety of strains, and be subject to security requirements, inspections, and good manufacturing practices.