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To the General Public
The purpose of this information bulletin is to provide clarity regarding accessing marijuana for medical purposes.
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) prohibits possession, trafficking, import and export, and production of controlled substances, including marijuana, unless authorized by regulations. Neither the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), nor any other Health Canada regulations authorize licensed producers to provide marijuana for medical purposes through a storefront. Health Canada lists all licensed producers on its website. Health Canada does not authorize the operation of retail storefronts, such as "compassion clubs" or "dispensaries". They are illegal.
Through the MMPR, Health Canada regulates the commercial production and distribution of dried marijuana for medical purposes. The MMPR authorize three key activities:
Only producers licensed by Health Canada under the MMPR are legally allowed to sell to the public. Health Canada maintains an up-to-date list of licensed producers of marijuana for medical purposes on the Department's website. The companies listed on this page are the only companies who are licensed under the MMPR to sell or provide marijuana for medical purposes to eligible members of the public.
Licensed producers are required to meet the strict requirements of the MMPR for the safe and sanitary production of marijuana for medical purposes. These licensed producers are regularly inspected by Health Canada. These companies are also required to hire a quality assurance person who is responsible for ensuring that the company complies with the Good Production Practices identified in the MMPR (Division 4), including the testing for safety and quality.
The MMPR also sets parameters for licensed producers that opt to use pesticides in producing marijuana for medical purposes. More information on these parameters is detailed in the Pesticides Approved for Use on Marijuana for Medical Purposes information bulletin.
In order to access marijuana for medical purposes, individuals must have the support of a healthcare practitioner and have him/her complete a medical document that explains the daily amount of marijuana required. With that medical document, individuals can register with one of the licensed producers identified on the Health Canada website.
The MMPR requires licensed producers to ensure the safe distribution of marijuana. As such, licensed producers are only permitted to provide marijuana to registered clients and this marijuana must be securely shipped directly to the client or an individual responsible for the client, or to the client's healthcare practitioner (if indicated).
The maximum amount of dried marijuana clients can possess at a time is 30 times the daily amount (as identified by the healthcare practitioner on the medical document) or 150 grams, whichever is less.
Licensed producers must package marijuana in a child-resistant manner that allows for the client to determine whether it has been opened prior to receipt. Licensed producers are required to include a label on the container of dried marijuana that identifies the client, the licensed producer's name and contact information, and information specific to the dried marijuana shipped. The licensed producer is also required to include similar information on a separate document with the shipment of dried marijuana. These documents are useful should a client be required to demonstrate proof of authorized possession to law enforcement.
More information is available on the Procedures for Accessing Marijuana for Medical Purposes web page.
Complaints about licensed producers who may not be complying with the requirements of the MMPR should be sent to Health Canada at CMC@hc-sc.gc.ca.