How To Access Canada’s New Medical Marijuana Program – Part 1

CANNABIS CULTURE – Health Canada will stop accepting its burdensome, barely-constitutional application for Canada’s former Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) on September 30, 2013.

This system will be replaced with the new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).

Other than designing a difficult-to-navigate webpage, the government agency hasn’t done much to inform doctors or the public about how to access their new medical marijuana program. This is strange given the feds have high projections for the numbers of Canadians who will be purchasing from licensed producers.

Once again, Health Canada has done little to market medical marihuana access. Almost two billion is spent annually on marketing pharmaceuticals. Without some kind of marketing, Canadians won’t know how to access legal medical cannabis.

Instead, Canadians will continue to turn to Facebook or Google for information on how to obtain medical marijuana and find advocates or articles. While Health Canada has failed Canadians, Canadians have taken it upon themselves to make medical marijuana work.

How To Access Canada’s New MMPR Medical Marijuana Program

1. You need only one doctor, regardless of illness. Gone are the specialists and categories of illness in MMAR. The MMPR is wide-open to ensure, regardless of illness, that if you want to medicate with marijuana and have a doctor’s (or in the future, a nurse practitioner’s) support, you’re going to gain access to legal cannabis.

2. You don’t apply to the government for medical marijuana. The burdensome application is not only gone, but so is government involvement. Many believe it’s the feds that frightened-off doctors. It could be true.

3. Health Canada has a one-page PDF sample form. The sample medical document is kind of amazing in its simplicity. It’s not an application, but a form. You can print it off take it your doctor. Download it here.

4. The document looks innocuous, but the third line is the deal-sealer or deal-breaker. “Daily quantity of dried marihuana to be used by the patient” is where all the action is. Convince a doctor to put a number here and you may buy legal cannabis.

5. The rest of the information on the sample form is basic medical office information.

6. Doctor’s signature. Most importantly, the doctor is signing that the information on the form is correct – you intend to use cannabis daily. No endorsement. No recommendation. No obligation. Doctors may still balk at being involved in medical marijuana or they may embrace it. At the moment we still aren’t sure about all the possible barriers to access.

7. Nurse practitioner’s signature. New under the MMPR is the possibility of nurse practitioners signing for medical marijuana. Health Canada will never admit my court case R v. Mernagh forced this option, but Team Mernagh is going to take credit. Currently provincial legislation in every province prevents Nurse Practitioners from actually doing this.

8. Sample Medical Document. Remember, it’s only a sample form and Health Canada notes another document may be used as long as the information is identical. Alternatively (and possibly the best method) would be to use a doctor’s letterhead, because all the medical business information is already on it. A prescription pad note is also doable if it contains all the required information. Any alternative documents must have all the doctor’s information on it and your’s too.

Stay tuned to Cannabis Culture for “How To Access Canada’s New Medical Marijuana Program – Part 2”, where I explain how to submit your form and how to get your medicine.

Matt Mernagh is a medical marijuana user and the lead advocate for access in R v. Mernagh. His book Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook: The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains is available in bookstores, head shops, Amazon and Indigo.