6 Things You Need To Know To Help Register For Medical Marijuana Card

Overview of the legal framework requirements, steps, resources, and guidelines concerning acquiring a medical marijuana card in Canada.

If I asked you to describe a typical medical marijuana cardholder, what would be your answer?
The first person I met who had such a card definitely didn’t fit the average description nor the associated stereotype. This person is a successful businesswoman with a beautiful family who had never consumed cannabis prior to obtaining her card. She wanted to better understand all aspects of marijuana culture and be able to make up her own mind before consuming if she decided to do so.

Legal Framework

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Understanding the legal framework is an important step that should clarify a few points concerning the grey areas of legality. In Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) passed in 1996 forbids the possession, trafficking, import, export, and production of controlled substances. Cannabis is classified on the Schedule II of forbidden substances.
Historically, cannabis has been used therapeutically by doctors up to the end of the 19th century in Canada and some researches were also conducted until it was mysteriously added on the schedule of the Opium and Narcotic Control Act in 1923 without any political or civil debate. Cannabis became a controlled substance, however it was still possible for a person to consume marijuana for medical purposes with the onus of proving the medical need by the defendant in court. This tolerance for medicinal use of cannabis ended in the 1930’s and it’s only in the 1990’s that some Canadians took it to court to get the right to use it for medicalpurposes.
The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) sets forth a series of regulations such as the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) authorizing three key activities for the consumption of marijuana medically. MMPR authorizes the possession of dried cannabis for medical purposes by qualifying patients supported by a recognized healthcare practitioner, the production of cannabis by licensed producers and the sale and distribution of dried marijuana
by licensed producers to eligible registered patients. Health Canada is the government entity responsible for the administration of the MMPR. Both prohibit the sale of marijuana for medical purposes to registered patients by licensed
producers through a storefront such as a compassion club or a dispensary. In many areas of Canada nowadays, there are many compassion clubs and dispensaries popping up that are tolerated by authorities.

Requirements

It is in this legal context that one must navigate to obtain a medical marijuana card. It certainly makes it more complex than a single visit to your doctor. There are a few requirements that must be respected in order to acquire the right to use marijuana for medical purposes as it is a rigorous process. Moreover, most physicians are usually more inclined to prescribe
pharmaceutical drugs than medicinal cannabis. However, the decision to use medicinal cannabis lies solely between the patient and the physician.

The first requirement is to be a Canadian citizen and you must have a valid proof of address. The second requirement is to have a medical condition that is qualifying for cannabis medical treatment and diagnosed by a physician. Lastly, Health Canada requires that the physician fill out the appropriate documentation detailing the quantity of daily dried marijuana to be consumed by the patient. It is important to note that the recommendation by your physician to consume cannabis is not a prescription, and therefore the doctor is entitled to charge a fee to fill out the necessary documentation. With these requirements met, it is possible to continue the process to get a medical marijuana card.

Procedure

The official procedure enumerated by Health Canada contains four steps with the first two steps already included in the requirements.

  • Consult a physician to discuss treatment options
  • Physician must fill out medical documentation supporting your condition with all necessary
  • Register with a licensed producer and order the permitted dried cannabis quantity.
  • Receive shipment of dried cannabis from licensed producer.

It looks rather easy, however the complexity lies in finding the health physician that will be willing to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment since most of them have not learned the appropriate dosage, symptoms that can be treated and possible side effects. Cannabis has long been treated as an illegal substance and it is very difficult for some to see the greater benefits that can be achieved with marijuana treatment.

A fundamental aspect of the procedure is ensuring the quality of cannabis for medical treatment. In this day and age, many consumers are conscious about the chemicals intake in their body. The good news is that it is possible to find organically grown marijuana for medical consumption. Many producers recognized by Health Canada offer cannabis grown without pesticides and chemicals, others will propose marijuana grown with a minimum use of chemicals while others will grow their cannabis using pesticides. It is up to the qualifying patient to determine what suits him/her best and do the appropriate research prior to placing a first order.

Available Resources

There is a multitude of organizations in Canada that are aimed at facilitating this process for patients looking for a physician supporting medicinal cannabis treatment. These organizations usually offer their services and established network to patients for a minimum fee. The extent of services offered vary from one organization to another, some will even verify the interaction of all medication consumed to ensure the patient’s safety. A quick search on the internet should help you find the organization that will fulfill your needs. If you are in outer regions, it might be even more difficult for you to find a willing physician. This is where the organizations come very handy as they can help you set up a Skype meeting with one of their doctors allowing you to obtain the appropriate medical documentation. It must be noted that some organizations have in-house doctors while others refer you to a doctor in their network.

As far as price is concerned, it will vary from one organization to another depending on the type of services offered as well as the extent of the network available to the eligible patient. For a basic service of pre-qualifying a patient online by filling a questionnaire before referring the eligible patient to the right organization to conclude the procedure, the cost will be around $100. However, for a more complete online line of services and referral to a network of professionals, the cost will be more steep, up to 400$ and don’t be surprise to even pay a little more.

Renewal Process

It is up to the doctor to specify the time limit for your marijuana medical treatment. Usually, doctors will sign the documentation for a full calendar year and ask to see the patient again the following year to renew the treatment and discuss your medical condition. Nonetheless, your physician could decide to do a closer follow up and request to see you again in six months to monitor your condition and sign off for six months of treatment instead of twelve.

Rules and Guidelines

So you’ve gone through the hoops and finally obtain your medical marijuana card, there is still a few things to keep in mind at this point. With a medical marijuana card, you are entitled to carry the equivalent of 30 times your daily dosage or a maximum amount of 150 grams. You must also be able to show that you are carrying dried cannabis legally as supported by your physician recommendation.
The Supreme Court of Canada has recently ruled that medical marijuana patients should be allowed to choose the most suitable way to consume marijuana as per their own personal preferences as well as medical condition. Qualifying patients can now decide to consume cannabis oil or edibles instead of the more traditional smoking of dried buds that may not be suitable to every patient.
The legal framework remains unstable at this time, however courts across the country are ruling in favor of accessibility to medical marijuana and the Liberal government still has the plan to legalize it in the near future which should end up in facilitating the process for qualifying patients.

References

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – Schedule II“. Government of Canada. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Procedures for Accessing Dried Marijuana for Medical Purposes Under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations“. Health Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations“. laws-lois.justice.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Daniel, Schartz (3 May 2014). “Marijuana was criminalized in 1923, but why?“. CBC News. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Janet, Davison (31 March 2014). “Medical marijuana: New rules and a ‘ton of confusion’“. CBC News. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Authorized Licensed Producers under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations“. Health Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Medical Use of Marijuana“. Health Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
R. v. Smith, Supreme Court Judgments“. The Supreme Court of Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Drugs and Drug Policy in Canada“. Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Historical and Cultural Uses of Cannabis and the Canadian “Marijuana Clash“”. Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Canadian Drug Policy Timeline“. Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
The Origins of Canada’s Cannabis Laws“. Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Expectation of Ethical Conduct – Information Bulletin“. Health Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
Accessing Marijuana for Medical Purposes – Information Bulletin“. Health Canada. Retrieved 2016-04-19.
3 Requirements You Need to Get a Medical Marijuana Card“. Medicinal Marijuana Association. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Who Is Eligible“. Medical Marijuana.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Marijuana for Medical Purposes“. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
Alexandra, Posadzki (26 July, 2015). “Medical marijuana to be covered by benefits soon, experts say“. Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
Canada Medical Marijuana (MMPR) Guide: 25 Questions & Answers“. Leaf Science. Retrieved 2016-04-23.