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Revolving Door

Sep02

Medical Cannabis (marijuana) updates

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Legal, Living with HIV, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

News on the latest regulations from the legal experts at the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario (HALCO)

Medical Cannabis (marijuana) updates

As we reported in our Winter 2013-2014 and Autumn 2014 newsletters: 

The Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) were replaced by a new regime called the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).

The new MMPR came into effect in June 2013 but some of the old MMAR provisions were still the law until March 31, 2014 (some authorizations and licenses have been extended, as described below and in our Autumn 2014 newsletter).

There is a lawsuit that is challenging the new MMPR.

In March 2014, the Federal Court of Canada made an interim order in the lawsuit, which meant that most people who had valid MMAR licences to use and/or grow medical marijuana can continue to use their licences until a decision is made in the lawsuit.

As a result of the interim order, Health Canada was also allowing patients with a valid Authorization to Possess (ATP) under the old MMAR to use their ATP to register with a Licensed Producer of medical marijuana under the new MMPR. According to Health Canada, Licensed Producers could only accept the ATPs for registration purposes until March 31, 2015, so ATPs can no longer be used to register with a Licensed Producer.

If you have not already registered with a Licensed Producer, you must now get a “medical document” from a doctor to be able to register with a Licensed Producer.

The interim court order is in effect until a decision is made in the lawsuit. The lawsuit trial took place between February and May 2015, but the Court has not released the decision yet.

For more information about the lawsuit, or to keep updated, you can visit the website of the law firm that is handling the lawsuit: http://johnconroy.com/mmar.htm.

You can find more information about the medical cannabis (marijuana) and registration under the MMPR on the Health Canada website:

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/index-eng.php.

www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/faq-eng.php.

Medical cannabis is no longer limited to dry form (R. v Smith)

 

The former Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) and the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) both limited medical cannabis (marijuana) to dried form for authorized patients.

In August 2014, the British Columbia Court of Appeal released its decision in R. v Smith, finding that the former MMAR’s restriction relating to dried marijuana is unconstitutional. The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, and HALCO, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the Canadian AIDS Society intervened.

We are very pleased to report that the Supreme Court agreed with us when they released the decision in this matter on June 11, 2015. The decision makes clear that patients with a legal authorization to use cannabis as medicine are entitled to consume it in various forms such as edible or topical products. So, authorized patients are no longer limited to smoking or vapourizing dried cannabis.

The Supreme Court declared that if you have a legal authorization to use cannabis as medicine (either a “medical document” under the MMPR or an ATP under the MMAR that was valid as of March 21, 2014), it is now legal for you to possess cannabis derivatives and not just dried cannabis. This ruling took effect immediately when it was released on June 11, 2015.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not address the production of cannabis derivatives or how authorized patients can legally obtain cannabis derivatives. As a result, it may still be a criminal offence for anyone to produce cannabis derivatives, though the law is somewhat unclear on this point. Here is a link to the Supreme Court’s decision:

http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15403/index.do

Breach of Privacy of Medical Marijuana Program Participants

As we reported in our Winter 2013-2014 and Autumn 2014 newsletters, Health Canada sent a mailing to medical cannabis recipients in envelopes that indicated the recipient’s name, mailing address, and that the mailing related to the Medical Marihuana Access Program. The mailing was sent in November 2013 to approximately 40,000 people.

A law firm in British Columbia filed an application to start a class action on behalf of these recipients asking for damages for breach of privacy. The Federal Court certified the class action on July 27, 2015, which means the case can proceed as a class action. All recipients of the mailing will automatically be part of the class action law suit (unless you notify the law firm that you do not want to be part of the class action). It is not necessary to register to be part of the class action. However, people who register will receive updates about the class action. To find out how to register or for more information, you can visit the law firm website: www.marijuanaclassaction.com/ .

This article first appeared in the HALCO newslettter here.

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