In fact, there were many experts and medical professionals calling for Health Canada to put an end to the medicinal cannabis program that has existed since 2001. With adult-use cannabis now legal for everyone, there was no need to continue with a medical program.
Others, including patients, argued this would be the wrong choice. A medicinal cannabis program is still very much needed, and the medical cannabis industry doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Does Canada Need Medical Cannabis?
The question for most people right now is whether or not cannabis for medicinal purposes still warrants special treatment. The Cannabis Act has introduced many laws governing the personal use of cannabis for Canadian adults. Most patients using medicinal cannabis are governed by these laws.
Many medical professionals, industry experts, and patients themselves argue a medical program is still necessary in Canada. There are quite a few reasons, including access for minors, higher carry limits, and even compassionate pricing and tax deductions.
Age Restrictions in the Cannabis Act
One of the major concerns about making cannabis legal in Canada was the potential for it to fall into the hands of children and teenagers. Public education campaigns have been launched, urging users to keep cannabis away from their children.
Under the law, people under a certain age are restricted from buying cannabis products. The age varies from province to province. Most provinces use their legal drinking age. In Ontario, for example, a person must be 19 to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or cannabis.
Adults who purchase cannabis and resell it or give it to minors can be charged, the same way they can be charged for providing alcohol or tobacco to minors. Parents purchasing medicinal cannabis for their children could be penalized.
The medical program would allow young persons to access this treatment option under the direction of medical professionals.
Medicinal Cannabis Patients Can Carry More
Another commonly cited issue with the Cannabis Act is the limit it places on personal possession. Under the Act, a person can carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public.
Medicinal cannabis patients sometimes need to carry more. If a patient is returning home with a 30-day supply of cannabis, with an authorized dosage of five grams per day, they would be carrying 150 grams on them. If they happened to be stopped, they could be charged.
A medicinal cannabis program makes allowances for what patients need.
Concerns about Access and Pricing
There are other concerns about leaving medical cannabis patients at the mercy of the recreational market. One is concerns about supply and access. Adult-use cannabis products conform to the desires of the recreational market, which may or may not reflect patients’ needs.
Patients may find other users buying up their medication. Worse, they may find stores stop carrying the medicinal products they need if there’s little market demand for them.
Prices are another concern. Currently, the medical cannabis industry works with patients to address concerns about prices. Insurance companies are now offering coverage for medical cannabis.
If the medicinal cannabis program is ended, patients will lose these forms of financial assistance. What’s really needed to make cannabis affordable for patients is provincial coverage, but that wouldn’t be provided if no medical program exists.
The end result would be some people who would have to go without their medication due to cost.
The Industry Will Keep Researching and Innovating
All of these concerns point to why it’s necessary for the medical cannabis industry to remain in Canada. Another good reason is continuing research and innovation. So much more is being learned about medicinal cannabis, and companies will continue to develop new products to assist patients.