Navigating Access To Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations

Thursday 06th, October 2016 / 13:24
By Jennie Orton
Who's got two green thumbs and can now grow at home?

Who’s got two green thumbs and can now grow at home?

VANCOUVER — The announcement on August 24 of the provisions under the newly-minted Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) put the legal right to grow marijuana for medicinal use back in the hands of registered medicinal users. But as Vincent Vega once said: it’s legal, but it ain’t 100% legal. Here’s what you need to know about the amended regulations.

The favourable ruling in Allard v. Canada earlier this year declared it a violation of liberty and security rights protected by Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to require individuals to get marijuana only from licensed producers. The right to grow for personal medicinal use was stripped from the formerly accepted MMAR (Marihuana Medical Access Regulations) when it was amended into the MMPR (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) in June of 2013.

You following this so far?

This ruling was contested in a number of directions: R v. Smith in June of 2015 resulted in the expansion of legal products from just dry plant to other extractions, then the Allard decision in February of 2016 resulted in the formation of the ACMPR.

According to Terry Roycroft of the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc., the changes merely bring the situation back to its roots but don’t deal with any of the problems that led to the court decisions that changed the MMAR in the first place.

“People can grow their own medicine, they have the choice so that’s really good for the patients,” Roycroft admits. “The downside is they’ve re-introduced the doctors into the mix here. Back in the MMAR there was a lot of pressure on doctors to sign off on large amounts because this is where dispensaries get a lot of their product. They get it from the MMAR growers. It’s not legal; it’s a grey area.”

This creative method of growing for profit under the legal umbrella of registered medicinal use is a significant shortcoming in the regulations surrounding the right to grow.

“The doctors are all seeing a lot more people coming to them, wanting to grow, and pushing for higher grow limits,” notes Roycroft. “They have put the doctors in the untenable position now of being again the gatekeepers.”

Under the new rules, licensed medicinal users can grow five plants outdoors or two plants indoors for every gram prescribed by their doctor. Materials to grow the plants are now allowed to be supplied by licensed providers in the form of seeds or cuttings. This is the only legal way to buy growing materials, although seeds can be procured from various sources outside that. See, this is what Vega was talking about.

Where it gets sticky, so to speak, is the fact that there are no ratios on the height of the plants or number of lights. So, licensed growers can grow their allotted plants to a wide variance of heights and size, making it possible to grow extremely large amounts of medicine every month; the excess of which ends up often being sold to the dispensaries.

Though this lack of ratios can result in a sort of lawless excess in the local market, it can make it possible for licensed growers to grow enough product to create extractions; the production of which requires exponentially more plant than just rolling does. Oils are legal to produce by growers and, unlike the oils produced legally by licensed producers, wherein the THC level is restricted to 3% per gram, the THC levels are not regulated. Any extraction can be made by materials either personally grown or purchased from LPs and can be made as strong as the individual requires. As such, the upsides and drawbacks of the right to grow are equally matched.

For those who are recent or continuing licensed medicinal users who want information and/or assistance with their applications to either possess or grow, you can contact the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. and set up an appointment with one of their physicians to discuss your options and get information on the use of medicinal marijuana.

Call the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre at 1-855-537-6272 or check them out online at

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