Article by David Brown, Lift News
Health Canada began accepting applications from patients with approval from a physician last August in response to a court ruling in February 2016, but the process has quickly created a backlog with what some are saying is a greater interest in the program than was expected.
Although applications in the first few months were approved relatively quickly, now many patients are reporting waiting several months to get their paperwork approved so they can purchase starting material and begin growing. Because medical paperwork is only valid for up to one year, this means many patients may end up only having a few months of growing time before they have to reapply.
At the time of announcing the new program, Health Canada emphasized that this was largely a stop-gap response to the Allard court ruling, and future regulatory changes would be coming (including likely pharmacy distribution).
André Gagnon, Media Relations Officer for Health Canada, told Lift in an update earlier this year that as of February 9th of this year, there are 2,554 individuals with an active Health Canada registration to produce cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.
At the time, Gagnon said the wait times were due to “a number of factors including the completeness of the information submitted, the need to verify certain information contained in the application, or the volume of applications received. Lift has reached out to Health Canada for more updates on the subject and expects updates soon.
Physicians who specialize in medical cannabis say they are seeing a lot of patients coming through their doors who are interested in growing cannabis—up to one quarter of all those seeking access, in some cases.