April 6, 2001
Health Canada – News Release
Rock to unveil proposed regulations governing the possession and production of marijuana for medical purposes
OTTAWA – Health Minister Allan Rock will unveil proposed regulations tomorrow to govern the possession and production of marijuana for medical purposes. The proposed regulations will outline specific rules for patients and caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana. Today’s announcement delivers on Minister Rock’s September 2000 commitment to develop and introduce a regulatory approach for Canadians to access marijuana for medical purposes.
“Canada is acting compassionately by allowing people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses to have access to marijuana for medical purposes,” said Minister Rock. “Today’s announcement is the next important step in our groundbreaking efforts in this area. It will bring greater clarity to the process for Canadians who require the use of this drug to alleviate symptoms.”
The proposed regulations are designed to address issues related to the transparency of the approval process and a clear definition of medical necessity that stemmed from the decision by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in the case of Regina v. Parker, rendered on July 31, 2000.
The draft regulations will contain two main components – authorizations to possess marijuana and licences to produce marijuana.
With regard to an authorization to possess, the draft regulations will:
Create three categories of clear criteria for application and authorization:
Category I – Symptoms associated with terminal illnesses with a prognosis of death within 12 months;
Category II – Symptoms associated with serious medical conditions;
Category III – Symptoms associated with other medical conditions;
Eliminate the current standardized limits on the quantity of marijuana the holder of an exemption can possess, in favour of individual recomendations by a physician.
Enable annual renewal, as opposed to the current six-month renewal process;
Create provisions that allow individuals to provide assistance to patients.
A licence to produce marijuana will be issued to either the patient or a representative the patient designates in an application. With regard to a licence to produce, the draft regulations will:
Establish a maximum number of indoor and outdoor plants dependent on the patient’s daily dosage;
Authorize the receipt and possession of seeds;
Allow for the storage and transportation of marijuana;
Enable up to three licences to produce at one address;
Allow for site inspections and criminal record checks for designated representatives.
The regulations maintain the existing privacy principle of voluntary disclosure to law enforcement officers of information concerning holders of authorizations to possess and licences to produce.
The regulations will be pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I and followed by a 30-day consultation period. Minister Rock plans to forward copies of the draft regulations to current exemptees inviting their feedback – particularly as it relates to the application process and the formulas used to govern the licence to produce.
The regulations may be revised to reflect public input prior to the completion of final regulations and their publication in Canada Gazette, Part II. It is intended the final regulations will come into effect by July 31, 2001, in order to meet the deadline imposed by the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
A second phase of regulations will be forthcoming later this year as it relates to specific elements of the Narcotic Control Regulations and Food & Drug regulations concerning the manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana for medical purposes.
Today’s announcement complements the December 2000 contract awarded to Prairie Plant Systems Inc. of Saskatoon to provide Health Canada with a reliable source of affordable, quality, standardized marijuana for medical and research purposes. It is expected that the first supply will be available within the year. To date, marijuana is not approved as a drug in any country in the world.
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