Canadian Medicinal Pot Users Triple

The number of Canadians legally permitted to use pot as medicine has tripled in the past three years since the Conservatives took power.

At last official count by Health Canada this past June, 4,029 people were authorized to possess cannabis under Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, 2,841 were allowed to grow their own plants and 481 had special permission to grow it on behalf of another patient. That’s up from 1,273 who had permits in February 2006.

Ontario leads the legal pot pack with 1,631 licensed tokers, while 1,008 British Columbians have the right to light up. Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick have the fewest authorizations, and only 39 people have permits in Newfoundland.

Ottawa resident Russell Barth, who legally smokes pot to help relieve symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia, is pleased authorized pot users are on the upward swing but believes the official tally represents a small fraction of those using marijuana for treatment. Many patients don’t bother to apply for a permit because of onerous paperwork or can’t find a doctor to sign their forms.

He said even when patients do have legal permission, they have trouble accessing quality, affordable pot. They also face hurdles transporting it and smoking it where they need it.

“It’s obscene. It’s systematic discrimination,” he said.

Health Canada grants permission to people who are suffering from grave and debilitating illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis, epilepsy or HIV/AIDS.

Barth said Conservative Bill C-15, which cracks down on drug offences, including tougher penalties for marijuana trafficking, could impact legal medicinal users by making access more costly and less secure. Smaller growers and compassion clubs will fear being thrown in jail for long terms and will leave the market to organized criminals, he said.

Health Canada obtains its marijuana and seed supply from Prairie Plant Systems Incorporated, and licensed patients can buy their supply from the government or grow their own. But Barth called the federal supply “crap.”

Blair Longley, leader of the Marijuana Party of Canada, said marijuana should be legal for all Canadians who want to smoke it whether they are sick or in perfect health. But he sees the rising number of legal authorizations as a good sign more doctors are valuing its medicinal properties.

“When the program started, you had to almost prove you’d be dead in six months,” he said. “Now it’s more wide-based and easier to get for things like migraines and arthritis.”

– Article from the Ottawa Sun on October 23, 2009.



  1. Dave on

    Doesn’t matter how old/young, intelligent or educated they are; we are the Witches! They use us to scare folks. Has been going on forever and will continue on forever… if not this natural medicine, then another.

  2. 420Pug on

    I am proudly one of those Canadians who is a legal holder. I’m just not proud of my sickness. Despite the massive massive grey area which is pretty much the whole program it is nice to have legality despite the ridiculous prices and difficulty finding high quality marijuana. Glad I got a grower who shows true compassion.

  3. Anonymous on

    I agree, it is shocking that people who are regarded as intelligent cannot understand the medicinal benefits of marijuana. I suspect such people are just ignorant and never gave marijuana a chance because of the bad stigma associated with it. Perhaps, a newer generation of less ignorant doctors will get over the bad stigma of cannabis and finally realize its true benefits.

  4. foam on

    the Gov- treating sick people this way should be manditory jail time

  5. Anonymous on

    …..Meanwhile…In Quebec province….The all too powerful
    “College des Medecins de la province de Quebec”, runned by old clergy- oriented relics MD degrees of XXth century graduates from University of Montreal refuse to acknowledge the medicinal virtues of cannabis and get this …IS STILL AWAITING FOR PROOFS OF CANNABIS medicinal virtues…before
    the college makes a public declaration regarding marijuana or say to its members that it is OK to prescribe for this substance.I am just wondering why people who are supposedly intelligent or clever enough to earn an MD degree and who have access to unlimited medical litterature on the Internet fail at this point in time to recognize that cannabis has real medicinal properties. I think they are just a bunch of hypocriticals waiting for our beloved John the Baptist Jean Charest prime minister to take a stand in their name.
    Come to compassion center in Montreal and you’ll notice that Quebecers are going nowhere with med pot issues.
    Better call a priest.Amen

  6. Matt on

    I have had epilepsy for 26 years and type 1 diabetes for 27 years. I have medical declaration for epilepsy diagnosis, have tried medications that are ineffective and have had 3 doctors refuse to sign a MMAR. after one year of appoints to get a MMAR i was fired by my doctor (because he said i only see him for MMAR) who resides in vancouver. I live in prince george so a 17 hour drive round trip for a year once a month. The courts have ruled that my medical files are adequate to not be prosecuted, however that still does not absolve me from breaking the law every day , to medicate and stave off seizures. As everyone who lives in BC knows it is impossible to get a new doctor never mind one who is receptive to medical marijuana. Unfortunately most doctors don’t care about clinical trials unless they are done in Canada, all the doctor’s i have come across are glad to give their personal opinion of how they disapprove of marijuana as medicine.
    The MMAR program is set up to fail from the beginning. The ridiculous thing is that in the good old USA a person can get a signature for med marijuana in one day, but you still have to deal with the DEA and federal govt. I am fed up what can i do? any help would be welcomed Matt