In June 2016, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Minister of Health created a nine-member task force to undertake consultation on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. Late last year, the Task Force released their final report following 5 months of consultations with Canadians, various levels of government, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, youth, patients and experts in relevant fields. The report documents various arguments that were brought up by the parties involved in the consultation around issues such as harms of use, supply chain, public safety and protection, medical access, and implementation. The report also contains the Task Force’s recommendations to the Canadian Government based on these consultations, should the legalization of cannabis proceed.
This blog series is a summary of the Task Force’s recommendations on the regulation of cannabis to the Canadian Government. The full report from the Government of Canada can be found here.
Part 4: Recommendations for Medical Access
Currently in Canada, access to medicinal cannabis falls under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. The Task Force examined the key issue of whether to develop a single system for both medicinal and non-medicinal cannabis access, or to have two parallel systems. They also considered issues such as affordability, strains, potency, quality and supply. The Task Force recommended that the Canadian Government:
- Maintain a separate medical access framework
- Monitor and evaluate patients’ reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes through the implementation of the new system
- Act as required to ensure that the market provides reasonable affordability and availability and that regulations provide authority for measures that may be needed to address access issues
- Review the role of designated persons under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations with the objective of eliminating this category of producer
- Apply the same tax system for medical and non-medical cannabis products
- Promote and support research on the use of medicinal cannabis and cannabinoids to facilitate submissions of cannabis-based products for market authorization as drugs
- Support the development and dissemination of information and tools for the medical community and patients on the appropriate use of medicinal cannabis
- Re-evaluate the medical access framework in five years
The views and opinions of patients, advocacy organisations, the medical community, and the public were key in the formation of the above recommendations.