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Drugs and Health Products

About Health Canada's Marihuana Supply for Medical Purposes

Warning This content was archived on June 19 2014.

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Under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, there are three options available to you to obtain a legal supply of marihuana for medical purposes. One option is to purchase from Health Canada directly.

Health Canada obtains dried marihuana and marihuana seeds for medical purposes from Prairie Plant Systems Incorporated (PPS), a company that grows, harvests and processes plants for pharmaceutical products and research. The production of marihuana at this facility is highly regulated and secure.

To obtain this supply you can order marihuana for medical purposes directly from Health Canada.

New: The supply options available under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations will no longer be available after March 31, 2014. At that time the only legal source of marihuana for medical purposes will be licensed producers, under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

The option of accessing dried marihuana via a licensed producer will be available as soon as the first licensed producer is authorized. Find information on how to apply under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

The information below only addresses the product sold by Health Canada and does not apply to any products sold by licensed producers. The strains offered, and the prices charged, by licensed producers are not known at this time and will be established by each individual licensed producer.

About Health Canada's Dried Marihuana Supply

Health Canada's supply of marihuana is obtained from a strain of pistillate (female) Cannabis sativa spp. (marihuana) plants which are moderate in height (90-120 cm) and have a moderate degree of branching (10-15 side branches) from the main stalk. Each of the side branches bears smaller resin laden flowering heads along the length and terminate in a dense, conical, resin-laden flowering head of mean length of 25-45 cm. The plants are green to light green in color and possess an aroma described as fresh and fruit-like.

The marihuana is grown under very strict, controlled and documented conditions. The product is tested to determine its THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, its content of 28 metals (including heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and mercury) and for the presence of mould spores. The marihuana is irradiated prior to distribution to eliminate any viable mould spores. This production process is also used in the Netherlands, the only other country which grows and provides access to marihuana for therapeutic purposes. The PPS product meets or surpasses all of the requirements established by Health Canada for natural health products. Since there have never been specific standards developed for marihuana, natural health products standards are used in both Canada and the Netherlands.

About Health Canada's Supply of Marihuana Seeds

The marihuana seeds have been culled from marihuana plant, Cannabis sativa L. 'Indica', cultivated and harvested by Prairie Plant Systems Inc. under a contract with Health Canada. These seeds are the first generation product of the hybridisation of MS-17/338 female plants and the MS-17/596 male plant. The MS-17/338 breeding line female plants are used in the preparation of dried marihuana product currently distributed.

The seeds are obtained from a strain of pistillate (female) Cannabis sativa L. 'Indica' (marihuana), which produced plants described as moderate in height (90-120 cm) with a moderate degree of branching (10-15 side branches) from the main stalk. The main stalk (branch) terminates in a dense, conical, resin laden flowering head of an average length of 25-45 cm, and the side branches bear smaller resin laden flowering heads.

The packets of Cannabis sativa L. 'Indica' seeds should be stored refrigerated until sowing.

The typical germination rate for these seeds is 80% with typically greater than 50% of the seedlings being pistillate (female). Results may vary.

Order Marihuana for Medical Purposes Directly from Health Canada

Before you Order

If you choose to order dried marihuana from Health Canada's supply, you need to have a valid Authorization to Possess issued by the Marihuana Medical Access Program. If you choose to order marihuana seeds from Health Canada's supply, you need to have a valid Personal-Use Production Licence or a Designated-Person Production Licence issued by the Marihuana Medical Access Program. Guidance on how to do this is available.

How Much Supply Can Be Ordered at One Time? What Is the Cost?

  • You are allowed to order a maximum of a one month supply of dried marihuana based on your approved daily amount.
  • The dried marihuana costs $5 per gram, plus applicable taxes.
  • A packet of 30 marihuana seeds costs $20, plus applicable taxes.

Who Is the Supplier?

Under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, Prairie Plant Systems Incorporated (PPS) is Health Canada's supplier of marihuana for medical purposes, until March 31, 2014. The company is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and has several years of experience with plant-made pharmaceuticals and new agricultural crops.

Under the current terms of the contract that PPS has with Health Canada, the company has:

  • set up and operated a marihuana growing, processing, fabrication and storage establishment;
  • conducted laboratory testing and quality control of marihuana throughout the product's life cycle;
  • fabricated, packaged, labelled and stored marihuana material;
  • conformed with the requirements of the Next link will take you to another Web site Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, including stringent security measures;
  • distributed marihuana to patients and researchers.

Costs and Prices

  • Health Canada pays for the production of the marihuana supplied to authorized persons. There is no markup to the price of Health Canada supply of marihuana for medical purposes. A packet of 30 seeds (if you are the holder of a Personal-Use Production Licence or a Designated-Person Production Licence) is $20.00 (plus taxes applicable in your province/territory). Dried marihuana costs patients $5.00 per gram (plus taxes applicable in your province/territory).

    New: Once the first licensed producer is established under the new regime and has set a price for dried marihuana, Health Canada will change the price of its own supply to match the price set by the licensed producer.

Supply of Marihuana while Waiting to Harvest Your First Crop

  • To allow you enough time to harvest your first crop of marihuana from Health Canada's supply of seeds, you can order an interim supply of dried marihuana for a maximum period of four months. This four-month period is based on an estimated 90- to 100-day growing cycle.

Provincial Health Insurance

  • Insurance coverage for marihuana for medical purposes is outside the scope of Health Canada's responsibilities.
  • Contact your local health insurance authorities directly for information about health coverage.

Reimbursements

  • You can be reimbursed for a supply package only if it is unopened and returned to Health Canada within two months of the date you received it. You cannot be reimbursed for any opened packages, even if you return them.

Maximum Quantities

  • The maximum quantity of dried marihuana, in grams, that the holder of an Authorization to Possess may have at any one time under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations is the daily amount supported by their medical practitioner (doctor), multiplied by 30 (days). For example, if you are authorized to use three (3) grams of marihuana per day, you are permitted to have a maximum of 90 grams during a 30-day period in your possession.

How Do I Pay for it?

  • You can pay by certified cheque, money order or credit card.
  • Full payment must be received BEFORE the order for any product purchased can be processed and shipped.
  • Payment should be made to the Receiver General for Canada, in Canadian funds.

How Long Does it Take to Receive an Order?

Good to know ...

When you access the Health Canada supply of marihuana for medical purposes, you can decide to have your orders shipped to your doctor's office. If you choose your doctor's office as the place of delivery, you are responsible for ensuring that your doctor agrees to receive the shipment(s) on your behalf.

As defined under the Policy on Health Canada's Marihuana Seeds and Dried Marihuana for Medical Purposes, once an applicant has been authorized to possess marihuana for medical purposes, Health Canada verifies the applicant's eligibility and payment BEFORE processing any orders.

The processing and delivery of marihuana products may take up to 14 business days, depending on the location of the delivery. When applying for Authorization to Possess marihuana for medical purposes, you can choose to have the product delivered to either your home or to your doctor's office. You will receive a statement of account/receipt with each shipment.

Step-by-Step: Place an Order and Make Your Payment

  1. Have on hand your existing and valid Health Canada Authorization to Possess and/or Personal-Use Production Licence.
  2. Print out the shipment order form for your supply of marihuana seeds and/or dried marihuana for medical purposes.
  3. Fill out the shipment order form by printing your name, telephone number, customer number.
  4. Indicate the amount of marihuana seeds and/or the amount of dried marihuana you want to have delivered in your shipment. (See "Maximum quantities" for information about the maximum you may possess at any one time.)
  5. Indicate on the shipment form how you will be paying for your shipment. You can pay by certified cheque, money order or credit card.
  6. Payment by cheque or money order should be made to the Receiver General for Canada, in Canadian dollars.
  7. If you are paying by credit card, fill out the credit card portion of the shipment order form.
  8. Once the form is completed, send your payment and shipment order form (by mail, by fax, by e-mail (if paying by credit card) to:

    By mail:

    Accounts Receivable
    AL: 3203B
    Ottawa, ON
    K1A 0K9

    By fax: 1-613-957-3495
    By e-mail:
    ar-cr@hc-sc.gc.ca