Recent Changes to the CPSO’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Policy

4420604477_2d02aa0c30_bThe College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recently updated its Marijuana for Medical Purposes policy (“MMP policy”). This update follows the Government of Canada’s replacement of the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (“MMPR”) with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (“ACMPR”) on August 24, 2016.

The ACMPR is the Government of Canada’s response to the case of Allard v. Canada, 2016 FC 236. In this case, the Federal Court of Canada found that restricting individuals to obtaining their medical marijuana only from licensed producers (as the MMPR did) violated the right to liberty and security of the person under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court also confirmed that the MMPR’s prohibition on non-dried marijuana was unconstitutional: a decision that had already been made by the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34 but with respect to the regulatory regime for medical marijuana that preceded the MMRP.

Under the ACMPR, individuals are now permitted to apply to Health Canada for permission to grow a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone else to grow cannabis for them. In addition, patients are permitted under the ACMPR to now access marijuana in forms other than dried, including fresh buds and leaves, and cannabis oil.

The changes to the MMP policy are minor, but they bring the policy in line with the ACMPR. The definition of “marijuana” has been amended to state that it means not only dried marijuana, but any other form of marijuana that is legally permitted by the current legislation, and the exclusive reference to dried marijuana throughout the MMP policy has been removed. The only other significant change is the removal of the statement that medical documents must be submitted directly to a federally licensed producer of dried marijuana in order for dried marijuana to be dispensed to the patient. As noted above, patients also now have the option of registering with Health Canada to produce their own personal supply or designated someone to do so on their behalf.

We previously summarized physicians’ obligations under the MMP policy, and this summary can be found here on our blog. Despite the recent changes to the MMP policy, all of the obligations we outlined are still applicable, as the physician’s role in authorizing patient access to medical marijuana through a medical document (akin to a prescription) remains the same. If you have any questions about the changes to the MMP policy or your current obligations with respect to prescribing medical marijuana, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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