Canadian Medical Marijuana Patients Allowed to Grow Own Cannabis

To comply with a Canadian judge’s ruling to make medicinal marijuana more accessible, Health Canada announced that medical marijuana patients are allowed to legally grow a “limited amount” of cannabis.

Canadian medical marijuana patients are legally allowed to grow their own cannabis, thanks to expanded rules recently announced by Health Canada. Patients that are approved for medical marijuana now have the opportunity to register with Health Canada to grow a limited amount of cannabis for their own supply. For patients who are not healthy enough to grow their own, the law also allows for a caregiver to grow cannabis for them.

“If an individual wants to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his/her own medical purposes, he/she must submit an application to register with Health Canada,” the department explains on its website. “An original medical document from the health-care practitioner must be provided and the application must include information such as the location of where cannabis will be produced and stored.”

Patients are able to get cannabis seeds and plants from licensed producers. According to Health Canada officials, who announced the law at a technical briefing on August 11, the “limited amount” a patient or caregiver can grow at home will vary depending on the amount of cannabis a patient is prescribed.

“In general, every one (1) gram of dried marijuana authorized will result in the production of five (5) plants indoors or two (2) plants outdoors,” Health Canada states on its website. “Individuals must indicate in their application whether they intend to produce marijuana plants indoors, outdoors, or partial indoors/partial outdoors. Individuals seeking to produce outdoors must confirm that the production site is not adjacent to a school, public playground, daycare or other public place mainly frequented by children.”

For a designated caregiver to grow cannabis for a patient, they have to first pass a background check and must not have been convicted of a drug offense within the last 10 years.

In 2013, Canada’s Conservative government passed a law that banned home cultivation and required medical marijuana patients to get their cannabis only from licensed producers. However, this past February, Judge Michael Phelan struck down that law, stating that rules that “limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one’s own marijuana or choose one’s own supplier” were in violation of a patient’s liberties under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The federal government was given six months to come up with new rules.

The new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) took effect on August 24. Health Canada said the change “provides an immediate solution” for complying with the judge’s order.

It’s likely the new regulations will be temporary, however, as Canada is expected to legalize recreational marijuana in 2017. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, elected October of last year, ran on the promise he would work toward legalizing marijuana. Immediately upon taking office, he drafted a mandate letter with a legal framework for legalization, but his efforts have been slowed because of international treaties that criminalize the possession and production of marijuana. Still, he has said that he will introduce legislation next spring.

For more information on Canada’s cannabis laws, visit our education page.