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Proposed Improvements to Health Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Program - Summary for Physicians

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Health Canada is considering improvements to the Marihuana Medical Access Program (the Program). These proposed changes as they relate to physician-patient interaction are summarized below. More information on Health Canada's proposed changes to the Program is also available.

1. Improvements Under Consideration

The improvements being considered would not alter the Program's intent to provide seriously ill Canadians with reasonable access to a legal source of marihuana for medical purposes, where conventional treatments are not appropriate and/or have failed to provide necessary relief.

The core of the redesigned Program would be a new, simplified process in which Health Canada no longer receives applications from program participants. A new supply and distribution system for dried marihuana that relies on licensed commercial producers would be established. These licensed commercial producers, who would be inspected and audited by Health Canada so as to ensure that they comply with all applicable regulatory requirements, would be able to cultivate any strain(s) of marihuana they choose. Finally, the production of marihuana for medical purposes by individuals in homes and communities would be phased out.

Individuals wishing to use marihuana for medical purposes would still be required to consult a physician who is licensed to practice medicine in Canada.

2. How the Proposed Program Would Work for Physicians

  • Individuals would be required to consult a physician to obtain access to marihuana for medical purposes. However, neither the individual nor the physician would be required to submit information to Health Canada.
  • Categories of conditions or symptoms for which an individual may possess marihuana for medical purposes under the current regulatory framework would be eliminated. There would no longer be a requirement for some individuals to obtain the support of a specialist in addition to their primary care physician.
  • Health Canada has established an Expert Advisory Committee to improve physician access to comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date information on the use of marihuana for medical purposes, thereby facilitating informed decision-making with respect to the use of marihuana for medical purposes.
  • Once a patient and physician have determined that the use of marihuana would be appropriate, the physician would provide the individual with a document. This document would replace the existing medical declaration currently required of physicians under the existing framework.
  • Individuals would submit the document from their physician directly to a licensed commercial producer. The producer would validate the document, register the individual as a customer, and process the order for a specific amount of dried marihuana.

3. Important Notes

Until any improvements to the Program are in place, the process for applying for an authorization to possess and/or a licence to produce marihuana for medical purposes under the MMAR will remain the same. A detailed transition plan will be shared with stakeholders when proposed regulations are pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I.

How to Comment on this Document

If you are interested in providing comments on this document, please do so by June 30, 2012.

  • By Email: marihuana-consultations@hc-sc.gc.ca
  • By Fax: (613) 946-4224
  • By Mail:
    Marihuana - Physician Consultations
    Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate
    Health Canada
    Mail Room, Federal Records Centre - Bldg 18
    1st Floor, 161 Goldenrod Driveway, Tunney's Pasture
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9

Please note that Health Canada is committed to reviewing and considering all comments received by June 30, 2012.

This information is being collected under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations for the purpose of obtaining your views on proposed changes to the Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP). To safeguard your privacy, you should ensure that any written comments you provide are sufficiently general that you cannot be identified or re-identified as the author and that other individuals identities are not disclosed. This collection of information is described by the Personal Information Bank on Outreach Activities related to Controlled Drugs and Substances (under development). All personal information created, held or collected by this department is protected under the federal Next link will take you to another Web site Privacy Act. The Privacy Act also gives you the rights of access to and correction of your personal information. For further information about this Privacy statement please contact Health Canada's Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. A list of all Next link will take you to another Web site ATIP Coordinators is available.