Qualifying for Medical Marijuana in Canada

Updated on June 28, 2021.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Eligibility for medical marijuana in Canada is similar to qualifying for it in many U.S. states with legalized marijuana medicine. While Canada legalized recreational marijuana in June 2018 and cannabis will be available in September 2018, you may want to get medicine before then. If so, you need to know how to can qualify for medical marijuana in Canada.

Canada’s Medical Marijuana Qualifications

Only certain patients can get access to medical marijuana in Canada. You must be a Canadian resident who is 18 years old or older, and you can’t have a previous marijuana-related legal offense on your record.

You can get medical marijuana authorization for any condition or symptom approved by your practitioner, but Canadian regulations specifically mention symptoms and conditions like:

  • Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
  • Multiple sclerosis-related muscle spasms
  • Insomnia and depression caused by a chronic disease
  • Appetite and weight issues due to cancer or HIV/AIDS
  • Chronic neuropathic pain
  • Symptoms that arise during end-of-life or palliative care

How to Become a Canadian Medical Marijuana Patient

The first step to becoming a medical marijuana patient in Canada is talking with your doctor. Any licensed practitioner can authorize you for medical cannabis, but they must have tried standard treatments for your illness first. If they think you qualify for marijuana medicine, they’ll complete a document from the state.

Once you have the signed document, you have a few options. You can use it to register with a licensed producer who can supply you with medicine, or you can sign up with Health Canada to get permission to grow your own cannabis plants.

If you need a caregiver to handle your marijuana plants for you, you can have them fill out a declaration. This paper will include information like where they’ll grow the plant and whether they’ve had a drug offense in the past. A caregiver can assist up to two patients.

How to Access Canadian Medical Marijuana

Canada has adjusted the ways medical marijuana patients can access their medicine throughout the program’s implementation. In 2016, they expanded patients’ options to ensure freedom of access. At the time of writing, patients can get medicine by growing it or getting it from a certified producer.

You can find about 50 licensed producers all over the country. Once you register with one, you can get dried marijuana leaf, fresh marijuana leaf or cannabis oil from them. If you signed up to cultivate your own plants, you can get seeds from a producer.

Keep in mind that Canada enforces both possession and cultivation limits on registered patients. Depending on your dosage, you can carry up to a 30-day supply of medication, or under 150 grams. For every gram of marijuana you’re authorized to grow, you can grow up to five indoor plants or two outdoor plants.

Legal Protections for Canadian Medical Marijuana Patients

Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), the Canadian laws regarding medical marijuana, don’t outline any specific protections for patients. However, that doesn’t mean patients have no legal protections at all.

Registered patients must follow Canada’s Narcotics Control Regulations, except ] when the permissions granted by registration conflict with them. For instance, while folks can’t possess any marijuana at all without a medical marijuana certification, patients can carry up to the amount mentioned in ACMPR.

If you worry about legal prosecution, read the ACMPR and Narcotics Control Regulations carefully. They can help you understand what’s legal and what isn’t.

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Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in Canada