Rock announces medical marijuana regulations and progress report on research and domestic supply

Health Canada News Release - July 4, 2001

OTTAWA - Health Minister Allan Rock today announced that the Government of Canada's regulations governing possession and production of marijuana for medical purposes have been approved and will come into effect on July 30, 2001. Minister Rock also announced research funding and provided a progress report on efforts to establish a domestic supply of marijuana for medical purposes.

"Today's announcement is a landmark in our ongoing effort to give Canadians suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses access to marijuana for medical purposes," said Minister Rock. "This compassionate measure will improve the quality of life of sick Canadians, particularly those who are terminally ill."

The approved regulations, which reflect extensive consultation with stakeholders, contain two main components authorizations to possess marijuana and licences to produce marijuana. They are designed to address issues relating to transparency of the approved process and the need for a clearer definition of medical necessity. These issues stemmed from the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario in the case of Regina v. Parker, rendered on July 31, 2000.

Draft regulations were pre-published April 7, 2001 for stakeholder consultation. Stakeholder concerns addressed in the regulations announced today include:

  • The application process will be managed by the individual applicant instead of a medical practitioner - reducing the burden on physicians and empowering the patient;

  • Applicants for a designated person production licence will not be required to submit a document proving that no foreign drug conviction exists;

  • The formula to calculate the number of plants permitted under a licence to produce will be adjusted to reflect estimated indoor and outdoor growing yields and margins of error; and

  • Transitional provisions will be included that extend all current exemptions by six months - ensuring patients are afforded an ample opportunity to comply with the new regulations.

The criteria for application and authorization to possess marijuana are clear: symptoms associated with terminal illnesses with a prognosis of death within 12 months; symptoms associated with medical conditions listed in a schedule to the regulations; and symptoms associated with other medical conditions.

The regulations were published in Canada Gazette Part II today. They come into force July 30, 2001.

Minister Rock announced other measures related to the Government of Canada's marijuana for medical purposes initiative. They include:

Outreach initiative to physicians to share information and seek input on streamlining application forms and process;

  • Ongoing review process involving physicians, patients, law enforcement officers and other stakeholders to monitor the effectiveness and application of new regulations and provide advice on future measures related to the manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana for medical purposes,

  • Funding of $840,000 to conduct research on the efficacy of smoked marijuana in the treatment of wasting syndrome in those living with HIV/AIDS by the Community Research Initiative of Toronto; and

  • Final licencing approval of Prairie Plant Systems Inc. (PPS) of Saskatoon and provision of seeds which allows them to begin growing a legal supply and a wide variety of marijuana to supply the Government of Canada's medical marijuana initiative.

"The measures announced today are a result of an extensive consultative process and a commitment to be flexible," concluded Minister Rock. "This approach will continue to guide our efforts as we monitor the implementation of these regulations and futher develop the supply and distribution process this Fall."

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