For decade upon decade, the medical pot debate has been a hot and controversial topic. To date, four US States have legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for both medical and non-medical use, while several other states have decriminalized non-medical use, in addition to other countries worldwide from The Netherlands, to Spain, to Uruguay, to Jamaica, to The Czek Republic, who have chilled out their views on the sticky green. So where does Canada stand in all of this? In 2001 Canada adopted a program known as MMAR (Marihuana Medical Access Regulations) in which approved patients could possess and even grow their own medication, after a lengthy in-depth application process. Last year, Health Canada repealed the MMAR and replaced it with a new program, prohibiting patients from growing their herb, and instead having to purchase from a select few commercial producers (naturally, increasing the price significantly). Since then, there have been a handful of constitutional challenges, and the outcome and future of our country’s medical weed system, is still up in smoke. So in case you’ve been zoned out, here are 8 fun facts about medical marijuana in Canada:
1. Medical marijuana is legal in Canada (and has been for a while). Despite the conservative government’s recent smear campaign targeting Justin Trudeau and marijuana use in general, the fact remains that Cannabis IS an approved form of medication under Health Canada’s former MMAR, and current MMPR (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations) programs, and many doctors worldwide support it’s useful benefits in treating a host of illnesses from chronic pain, to epilepsy, to glaucoma.
2. Marijuana extracts (for medical purposes) are legal too. Previously, Health Canada tried to restrict the sale of medical cannabis to it’s dried form, but in a recent supreme court decision, the feds ruled that marijuana derivatives (such as oils, butter, and yes… baked goods), are within the patient’s legal rights.
3. Compassion clubs or dispensaries are illegal. Although patients do have a right to access medical cannabis, they may only do so through Health Canada’s approved channels. Currently, under the MMPR, patients must register with a Licensed Producer to obtain their medication by mail, and depending on the individual’s physician’s recommendation, they may possess up to a maximum of 150 grams per month.
4. Some expired licenses are still valid. Thanks to a current class-action federal injunction (Allard v. HMTQ), all patients who held a valid ATP (authorization to possess) or PPL (Personal Production License) expiring on or after March 21st 2014, are still authorized to possess and/or produce their medicine (depending on their license type). However, regardless of previously recommended doses, the injunction does cap all patients at the new maximum of 150 grams per month. A final decision in this case is expected to be heard sometime this fall, and updates can be found here.
5. Marijuana is a BILLION dollar industry. If and when the government decides to fully legalize marijuana, economic forecasts suggest that Canada could earn in the billions on licensing and taxes, not to mention drastically reducing the outrageous amount spent on enforcing marijuana related crimes.
6. Marijuana’s healing powers go right down to the bone. Scientists in Israel recently concluded that CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psyhoactive cannabinoid), when administered to rats, had the effect of speeding up the healing of broken bones, and increasing overall bone strength. This new research opens up possibilities for treating people suffering from osteoporosis and other bone-related-diseases.
7. Marijuana can be harmful to developing brains. While Canadian law-makers are taking strides in medical marijuana reform, it is still important to remember the harmful effects this drug can have on a young person’s cognitive development, and it’s potential to cause long-term damage to mood, memory, and even trigger other psychotic illnesses. Like any medicine, cannabis comes with a ton of rehabilitative properties, but it can also lead to negative outcomes, so it is important that children and teens are discouraged from non-medical access and use.
8. Hemp is heaven sent. You might have heard about the many uses of hemp (a variant of the cannabis plant with lower tetrahydrocannabinol content), well medical and recreational perks aside, this miracle of mother-nature can be used to produce everything from rope, to paper, to clothing, to fuel, to beauty care products, and hemp seeds themselves are jam-packed with proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes, classifying them as a superfood. With so many useful, practical, and versatile benefits, it’s not hard to see why Earth-dwellers alike have been fighting to legalize this gift from god.