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Cannabis Act, ACMPR, and More: Canadian Cannabis Regulation Simplified

By June 2, 2020 April 21st, 2021 No Comments

MMAR, MMPR, ACMPR, Cannabis Act; The world of cannabis regulation can be difficult to navigate with the regular updates to Canadian law. Apollo is here to help you understand the landscape in 2020, and ensure that you have the resources you need to stay educated.

 

Access & updates to The Cannabis Act as per
Health Canada

(Last updated Oct 2020) 

Since the Cannabis Act came into effect on October 17th, 2018, it has come with new regulations that have replaced the ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes). While recreational cannabis laws were one of the main focuses of the act, new regulations were put in place for medical cannabis across Canada. 

Patients authorized by a health care provider are still able to access medical cannabis by:

  • Purchase through a Health Canada Licensed Producer (LP)
  • Applying for a grow your own license (GYO)
  • Designating an individual to grow it for them on their behalf

Some improvements made for patients purchasing through a Licensed Producer include:

  • Your GYO license stays valid when applying for a renewal until a decision has been made as long as it was submitted before your original certificate expires
  • The ability to request to have your medical document transferred to a different LP
  • The ability to request the return of their medical document from an LP
  • Removing personal storage limits for patients in their home

Public possession limits for patients are the lesser of 150 grams or a 30 day supply. This does not include the 30 grams they are allowed to have of recreational cannabis. Patients must be prepared to show they are legally allowed to possess more than 30 grams if requested by law enforcement by showing their registration document from a Licensed Producer or certificate from Health Canada.

How do I sign up/purchase medical marijuana under the Cannabis Act?

Patients suffering from eligible conditions (chronic pain, back pain, anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD etc.) can obtain a prescription for medical cannabis from their doctor. If the patient’s doctor is uncomfortable with medical cannabis or does not know how to prescribe cannabis, Apollo can help.

Apollo Cannabis Clinic has physicians and psychiatrists available to consult and prescribe to patients Canada-wide, therefore we can assess your conditions, prescribe medical cannabis, and educate the patient all under one roof. We also have a new harm reduction program where our physicians can prescribe cannabis to patients who currently self-medicate with unregulated, illegal ‘street cannabis’ are eligible for a prescription under the basis of harm reduction. This is to ensure these patients have access to legal, regulated, and tested medical cannabis.

Moving forward, the big opportunity and focus will be on educating physicians about the truth surrounding medical cannabis, it’s scientific components, and the research that is currently underway. Since the power is now in the hands of your doctor, it’s important they have the correct information.

Learn more, or book a free appointment

What was the ACMPR?

The ACMPR is an acronym for Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation. The ACMPR is a result of the Allard v Canada case that ruled the former regulations, the MMPR infringed on Canadian patients’ rights to reasonable access to medical cannabis. Similar to the former MMPR, the ACMPR allows Canadian patients to register and obtain their medical cannabis from Health Canada approved Licensed Producers, but it also allows Canadians the option to grow a limited amount of cannabis for themselves, or designate someone to grow/produce their medical cannabis for them.

Healthcare Practitioners still operate as gate-keepers under the ACMPR, as patients must obtain a prescription for medical cannabis in order to register with a Licensed Producer, or register with Health Canada for a personal production license. When the ACMPR was put in place, dispensaries, compassion clubs and retail storefronts for cannabis still remained illegal and the only legal option for patients to obtain dried cannabis, cannabis oil, and/or plants/seeds was through LPs.

 

Is ACMPR still valid after The Cannabis Act was implemented?

Since ACMPR was merged with the Cannabis Act 2018, there are separate regulations for recreational and medical use under one act. Technically, yes, the rules are still valid and the regulations of ACMPR remain the same as before. The key difference between these programs is that the former lays down regulations for medical usage specifically, and the abolishment of storage limits at the production-location/applicants place of residence. For example, under the Cannabis Act, a user is allowed 30 grams to use in public. Since the ACMPR laid down an exception to the limit for the medical patient, they can legally exceed this limit if they have prescribed authorization for the same under the Cannabis Act as well.The new limit is the lesser between a 30 day supply of your prescription and 150 grams.

 

What is the difference between ACMPR and Cannabis Act?

The intent of use is the key difference between both regulations. Note, ACMPR is now replaced with the Cannabis Act. ACMPR was primarily intended for medical cannabis and the new “Cannabis Act” is directed towards both medical and recreational cannabis users.

 

What was the MMPR?

Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) was a set of rules and regulations for growing, buying and selling medical cannabis in Canada. Under the MMPR, doctors were allowed to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. Patients medicine was then purchased through a commercial grower (licensed producer or LP) that has been licensed by Health Canada.

 

How was the MMPR different from the MMAR?

Before the cannabis act came into effect, medical patients were growing their own plants under the MMPR or MMAR programs. The MMAR was the first and original regulation put in place years before 2016 to allow Canadians access to medical cannabis through both purchasing it, or growing it themselves. The unfortunate downside of when the MMPR was introduced was that patients were no longer allowed to grow their own cannabis. This has been said to have changed in order to cut down on illegal growing.

 

Is my MMAR license still valid?

The government has allowed people with existing MMAR licenses to keep them, in order to make things easier for those patients at the time. If any detail listed on your pre-existing license has changed such as your address or the amount you are growing, you will need to apply for a new license under the ACMPR – but it is our specialty and we help you through the entire process. Because these programs are outdated, we do recommend those still using an old license to renew with the ACMPR in order to ensure they are still compliant and legal.

 

ACMPR 

Introduced as Cannabis act oct 17, 2018, the ACMPR was the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation. 

This was introduced to allow patients reasonable access to medical marijuana. Patients can get access to medical marijuana by registering for the service. The key difference between both regulations was that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) did not allow for home cultivation of plants by medical patients, they were forced to rely upon Health Canada and licensed practitioners for their needs. The regulations still control who gets access to medical marijuana, however, it allows the patients to grow marijuana and treat their illness at home without entirely relying on medical practitioners. 

Under Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation, the patient will still require a prescription to get access to medical marijuana through a Licensed Producer or register with Health Canada.

 

How does ACMPR work?

The licensed producer is responsible for obtaining the necessary licenses from Health Canada to grow and produce medical marijuana for Canadian patients. This gives them legal rights to distribute medical cannabis to authorized patients. The ACMPR explains how the producer can apply for a license to grow and sell dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, cannabis plants, seeds, edibles, vaporizer cartridges, and oils legally in the country. However, the producers have to meet the quality and grade requirement, as one of the main responsibilities of ACMPR is to ensure quality products are released into the market and they are safe for medical consumption. The producers must adhere to strict regulations to maintain strain quality.

The patient needs to obtain authorization from their doctor or medical practitioner and only then can they qualify to use medical marijuana legally. The authorization by a medical professional defines the duration of the treatment and the strength of the dosage, which is then used for future prescriptions and refills.

This authorization is essential if the patient wishes to grow their medical marijuana.

 

What is an ACMPR license?

The ACMPR regulation allows for patients to apply for a personal production license given by Health Canada or as a designated producer for someone else. Under this license, an individual can cultivate a limited quantity of cannabis at home to treat their medical needs.

It is also known as Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation Growing License. Health Canada is the governing body for these applications. The processing time for these licenses varies from 6 weeks to a couple of months. Currently, there are no direct licensing fees associated. As per regulations, Doctors cannot charge to obtain these licenses. However, if one has appointed a medical office to keep their files and the processes in order, these costs must be incurred by the individual and are not associated with Health Canada.

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

How many plants can I grow under The Cannabis Act?

Under The Cannabis Act (formerly ACMPR), an individual is allowed to grow 4 plants across provinces (exceptions include QC, NU, & MB). For medical patients, there is no set limit, this does not mean the patient can grow unlimited weed.

The number of plants allowed to grow under ACMPR is dependent on the prescription and medical needs authorized by a licensed practitioner. The number of plants is directly proportional to the amount prescribed.

Click here to access the online calculator by Health Canada.

If you are wondering what’s the penalty for growing more than 4 plants in a residence, the outcome looks very stark. The worst possible action is being charged with a serious indictable offence wherein you could be imprisoned for 14 years. If lucky, you could get away with fines and tickets. Illicit cannabis will be confiscated by the authorities.

 

Can Health Canada reject your application for a growing license?

If the medical documentation was not provided by the right authority, Health Canada will not register you for the license. The registration of a license is equivalent to approval. It is recommended to acquire the documentation and authorization from a medical doctor or a nurse practitioner to meet the guidelines.

Apollo Cannabis Clinic can help you find the right doctor to get the authorization to meet your medical needs.

 

Health Conditions that qualify for medical cannabis

Since medical cannabis is not like your regular painkiller, the patient needs to qualify to use the drug. The following are some of the ailments which are eligible for potential medical cannabis treatment.

  •   Anxiety and Depression
  •   Chronic Pain
  •   Back and neck problems
  •   Brain Injury
  •   Cancer
  •   HIV/AIDS
  •   Parkinson’s Disease
  •   Crohn’s Disease and Colitis
  •   Fibromyalgia
  •   Multiple Sclerosis
  •   PTSD
  •   Muscular Dystrophy
  •   Rheumatoid Arthritis
  •   Sleep Disorders

This is not an exhaustive list.

 

How do I sign up/purchase medical marijuana under the Cannabis Act?

Patients suffering from eligible conditions (chronic pain, back pain, anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD etc.) can obtain a prescription for medical cannabis from their doctor. If the patient’s doctor is uncomfortable with medical cannabis or does not know how to prescribe cannabis, Apollo can help.

Apollo Cannabis Clinic has physicians and psychiatrists available to consult and prescribe to patients Canada-wide, therefore we can assess your conditions, prescribe medical cannabis, and educate the patient all under one roof. We also have a new harm reduction program where our physicians can prescribe cannabis to patients who currently self-medicate with unregulated, illegal ‘street cannabis’ are eligible for a prescription under the basis of harm reduction. This is to ensure these patients have access to legal, regulated, and tested medical cannabis.

Moving forward, the big opportunity and focus will be on educating physicians about the truth surrounding medical cannabis, it’s scientific components, and the research that is currently underway. Since the power is now in the hands of your doctor, it’s important they have the correct information.

Learn more, or book a free appointment

 

Photo Credit: Tim & Selena Middleton | cc

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