July 8th, 2015 – Following a recent Supreme Court decision in June that enables medical cannabis patients to legally possess and consume cannabis extracts, Health Canada is amending its rules to allow licensed medical cannabis producers to produce and sell cannabis oil, as well as fresh buds and leaves.
These changes address the conundrum created by the court ruling for Canadian cannabis patients that we reported last month whereby patients were given the right to consume extracts but it was still illegal to produce them. These new changes now address this problem.
The changes are also good news for the Licensed Cannabis Producers in Canada who up until now have not been able to make use of all plant materials other than the buds. This move will help them be make more efficient use of their crops and should increase their product offerings and margins.
Producers will have to comply with the same terms and conditions as those on dried cannabis — including making sure the product is shipped in child-resistant packaging as well limiting the amount of the active ingredient in the drug.
In its statement, Health Canada declares, “Licensed producers must not sell or provide any cannabis oil that will exceed 30mg per mL of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Licensed producers must ensure that the label specifies amounts (in milligrams) of its content of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).” These concentrations are far below what most dispensaries currently offer across the country. It also appears that cannabis resin, hash or other concentrated oils are not included in these new rules.
Derivative products such as oils have become extremely popular in places like Colorado, where pot has been legalized recreationally since 2012. Some industry observers believe these products will ultimately become far more popular among medical patients than dried cannabis.
Officially, Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose and the Conservative government do not support cannabis as a medicine, saying that her department was meeting “the requirements dictated by the Supreme Court of Canada.” Prior to the Supreme Court ruling last month, the government had tried to limit patients’ access to cannabis use to dried bud only.
In a statement today, Health Canada said the new interpretation was effective immediately and intended to eliminate uncertainty.
“Canadian courts have once again required government to allow access to marijuana when authorized by a physician…. Marijuana is neither an approved drug nor medicine in Canada and Health Canada does not endorse its use.” Ambrose said.
Having lost this recent round of their war on cannabis, the Conservatives now face the prospect of another Supreme Court decision later this summer when the Allard decision is expected.