Article by Mike Okada, Cannabis Life Network
Medicinal cannabis stands out from other medications because cannabis is used both medicinally and recreationally, and with recreational cannabis set to be legalized later this year, this creates a challenging regulatory environment where the government needs to balance the rights of medicinal and recreational users.
The big question: Are medicinal cannabis patients being left behind in the excitement over legalization?
Let’s look at that question by exploring the differences between medicinal and recreational cannabis, whether medicinal cannabis should be taxed, and the constitutional right to reasonable access.
Recreational vs. medicinal cannabis
Medicinal cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, and while recreational use is set to be legalized later this year, anything other than prescribed medicinal cannabis is still technically illegal because the Canadian government has refused to decriminalize recreational cannabis in the meantime.
In the current medicinal cannabis framework, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), patients can access cannabis in three ways:
- Grow it themselves
- Designate someone to grow for them
- Buy from a licensed producer
Generally speaking, medicinal cannabis tends to have higher concentrations of CBD, whereas recreational cannabis has higher levels of THC, but with ]recreational cannabis sales on the horizon, the lines between recreational users, medicinal patients, and those self-medicating with cannabis are becoming increasingly blurred.
The federal government intends to continue its separate and distinct system for medicinal cannabis, even when recreational cannabis is legalized, and this was supported by most respondents to the government’s public consultation on the matter.
Additionally, the government will allow medicinal patients to transfer their medical documents to a different licensed producer, which aims to give patients more choice and accessibility. Before, licensed producers were required to keep a patient’s medical documents.