What does legalization mean for medical users? What you need to know

Sarah Francey Blog, General Info 0 Comments

Legalization means access to cannabis has greatly increased, for both medical and recreational users alike. This has brought about some debate as to what will happen to medical users and the medical cannabis market.  What role do medical cannabis resource centres play now and what rules do medical patients need to be aware of?

The need for medical support:

With the prevalence of cannabis-related information online, an issue arises with those who self-diagnose. This is highly advised against, as using cannabis to treat these conditions can result in a worsening of symptoms if used incorrectly. Consulting with a health-care professional can ensure you are properly assessed and treating your exact symptoms with the right products and dosing. For this reason, the medical market will likely thrive as the plant becomes less stigmatized by the increased access to information.

Access:

Medical users now have increased access to products, as they can order directly through Licensed Producers nation-wide, an option only available to medical users.

Benefits from ordering through federally Licensed Producers include:

  • the ability to request the return of their medical document from a federally licensed seller
  • the ability to request the transfer of their medical documentation to a different federally licensed seller
  • that the effective date on the registration document will be the day it is issued, rather than the day the medical document was signed by the health care provider
  • removal of the 30-day limitation period for buying cannabis from a federally licensed seller (to ensure no break in a patient’s supply)
  • a broader range of permitted products
  • access to an increasing number of licensed producers and sellers (Health Canada has licensed more producers in the last year than in the 4 previous years combined). The increasing number of licensed producers enables:
    • competitive prices
    • more supply of cannabis
    • an increased availability of a range of products

Medical patients may also purchase through recreational stores or provincial governing bodies (AGLC here in Alberta). However, provinces have a limited selection of provincially approved Licensed Producers to purchase from, which may be a fraction of those licensed nationally. While purchasing recreationally for medical purposes is allowed, the government has mandated that no medical advice be given in stores. If you are seeking advice cannabis for medical purposes, recreational stores will not be able to provide the proper support.

Possession:

For public possession, medical users are permitted to have the lesser of 150 grams or a 30-day supply of dried cannabis (or the equivalent in cannabis product) in addition tothe 30 grams allowed for non-medical purposes.

Those authorized to access cannabis for medical purposes must be prepared to show they are legally allowed to possess more than 30 grams (or equivalent) in public, if requested by law enforcement. This can be done by showing:

  • Their registration document issued by a federally licensed seller
  • Their registration certificate issued by Health Canada for personal or designated production
  • Their registration certificate issued by Health Canada for possession only
    • This new registration for possession only is available to meet the needs of those choosing to access their supply of cannabis for medical purposes exclusively from a provincial or territorial authorized retail outlet or authorized online sales platform

Consumption:

Calgary’s cannabis consumption bylaw states that there can be no public consumption of cannabis. However, medical users are exempt from this but adhere to traditional smoking areas and rules. Upon request, medical cannabis users must present proof to police officers that the cannabis is medical. (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations).

Under the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, City of Calgary bylaw officers and peace officers may also request documentation.

Travel:

Without any documentation, or carrying “recreationally”, consumers may bring the allotted legal limit, 30 grams, on any domestic flight –  in carry-on or tucked in your stowed luggage. Those with medical documentation may carry up to a 30 days supply when flying and ensure you have proper documentation to support the amount you are carrying. Under no circumstances, medical patients included, can you bring cannabis products of any form across the border.

Some helpful tips when travelling with medical cannabis:

  • Keep your medicine in its original packaging.
  • Always pack your medicine in your carry-on baggage, or in an easily accessible place.
  • Have all your registration documents with you, including the receipt of your latest purchase.
  • Never pack, or possess, more than your 30-day limit.
  • Arrive at the airport early to give the staff time to check all your documents.

Insurance:

To receive any insurance compensation, cannabis must be purchased through medical avenues only. Recreational cannabis will not be covered. Many insurance companies have yet to adopt policies for medical cannabis use, though this will likely shift in the coming months and years.

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