Article by Carly Weeks, The Globe and Mail
A new Globe and Mail investigation is raising alarming questions about the safety of cannabis being sold illegally in unregulated dispensaries. But for the thousands of Canadians who use regulated and tested medical cannabis, there is another urgent issue researchers are scrambling to address: Does it work?
Background and regulations
Health Canada has not approved the use of medical cannabis, but a court ruling requires the government to “provide reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a health-care practitioner.”
Producers must pass Health Canada’s application and inspection process in order to sell medical marijuana. According to the department, there are currently 34 licensed producers in Canada. More than 53,000 clients were registered with licensed producers during the period between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2016.
There are also an unknown number of Canadians who are allowed to grow their own medical marijuana at home as a result of a 2014 court decision. A ruling earlier this year struck down a ban on homegrown medical marijuana; the government is expected to bring in new rules by the end of the summer.
Doctors can decide if and when patients should qualify for medical marijuana. But this puts them in a difficult situation, as it has not been approved by the government to treat any medical condition.
Canadian Medical Association president Cindy Forbes said in a statement that the current regulatory environment is “a serious challenge for physicians in providing the best care to patients.”