Canada was one of the first countries to legalize medical marijuana in 2001, when it set up a medical cannabis access program through the Canadian health department. Currently about 40,000 patients across Canada are authorized to use medical marijuana; that number is expected to increase to nearly 400,000 over the next ten years.
As of April 2014, a patient can access marijuana for medical purposes with a medical document—similar to a prescription—from a doctor specifying a daily cannabis dose. Prior to April, patients applied to the health department for permission to use cannabis medicinally.
Though the Canadian health department no longer processes medical marijuana applications or specifies what medical conditions qualify for cannabis use, it has not approved it as a regulated medicine.
Other countries are watching how Canada moves forward with medicinal cannabis. Currently all medicinal cannabis use has come about as a result of ongoing litigation and patients with a medical need must fall within the scope of the court orders.
Such restrictions are one problem. That dried marijuana to be smoked or vaporized is the only authorized medicinal cannabis in Canada is causing quite another problem.
The outcome for parents like Mandy McKnight is to walk a fine line of illegally helping her son or to become a refugee in a U.S. state such as Colorado to care for their children.
According to a recent BBC report, one Canadian mother—Mandy McKnight—is treating her son with an oil made from a strain of marijuana that is particularly effective in reducing seizures for patients with Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
Her son Liam is six years old. Who would expect a child to smoke or vaporize medicinal cannabis?
The outcome for parents like Mandy McKnight is to walk a fine line of illegally helping her son or to become a refugee in a U.S. state such as Colorado to care for their children. (like caregivers in U.S. states as written about in an October Cannabis Industry Today blog post) Mandy is also asking Parliament to amend the current regulations.
For now, the Government of Canada is waiting for more clinical studies to confirm the safety of marijuana in all forms.
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Oaksterdam University offers semester classes and 2-4 day seminars to get you started. Topics cover regulations, history and politics, legal rights, horticulture, ingestion methods, science of cannabis, economics of cannabis, patient relations and advocacy, dispensary operations and business management, procurement and allocation, legal business structures, delivery business and topical applications. Learn More.