For many who rely on medicinal marijuana, Thursday’s Health Canada announcement is a sigh of relief.
New regulations, which come into effect Aug. 24, 2016, allows Canadians who have been authorized by their health care practitioner to register to grow their own weed or designate someone to produce it for them.
“We come from a farming community so the opportunity to grow it yourself is far more sustainable,” said Sarah Nagy, a medical marijuana user.
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This new regulation will also help Herb-Man Hydroponics, a Saskatoon store which sells equipment for indoor gardens and medicinal cannabis. Co-owner Tracy Grand’Masion said the federal decision puts power back in the people’s hands and she intends to register to become an authorized grower.
“This is a great time right now with people being concerned about where their food is coming from. Why is medicine different? You can grow your food from seed to table, why can’t you grow your medicine,” Grad’Masion said.
Prescription holders will also continue to have access to 34 licensed Health Canada producers, which currently supply close to 70,000 Canadians.
According to Health Canada, approximately 28,000 Canadians have authorization to possess and licences to produce marijuana for medical purposes under court injunctions.
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The decision was made in reaction to a federal court case (Allard v. Canada) earlier this year, which ruled that only being able to access cannabis legally through licensed producers restricted a users “reasonable access.”
University of Saskatchewan medical historian Lucas Richert said we’re taking a step back to the way things were before 2013.
“The Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) which was instituted in 2013 by the Conservative government commercialized medical marijuana in Canada and took away the rights of the medical cannabis patient to grow their own. That is now being returned,” Richert explained.
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This regulation does not mean stores selling cannabis product, commonly known as compassion clubs and dispensaries are authorized.
Health Canada says these changes are just a short-term plan until the federal legalization of marijuana. A law is expected to be tabled in spring 2017.