The federal government has announced new rules for medical marijuana users that will allow patients to grow their own at home.

The new regulations, which will replace the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, also include other changes such as stricter labelling requirements for dried pot and cannabis oils.

Under the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which come into force on August 24, people who have authorization from a health care practitioner can access medical cannabis:

  • From licensed mail-order producers, of which there are currently 34
  • By applying to Health Canada to produce a limited personal amount
  • Or by designating someone else to produce it.

Those producing for themselves will not be allowed to produce for more than one other person.

Allowing users to grow their own was required after a Federal Court judge ruled, in February, that the Conservative government’s 2013 regulations requiring medical marijuana to come from licenced producers violated patients’ Charter rights.

Health Canada was given six months to come up with new rules after the Allard v. Canada decision.

Other notable changes under the new regulations, according to Health Canada:

  • New labelling requirements for cannabis oil to include the carrier oil used and for cannabis oil in dosage form to include the number of capsules or units in the container, the net weight, and the volume of each capsule or unit
  • New labelling requirements for fresh and dried marijuana to include the percentage of THC and CBD that could be yielded, taking into the account the potential to convert THC-Acid and CBD-Acid into THC and CBD
  • Provisions enabling individuals to receive their 30-day supply of cannabis within each 30-day period beginning on the date of the first sale
  • Modifying that the accuracy of weight and volume of products in packages must now be between 95% and 105%, as opposed to between 95% and 101%
  • Requiring all analytical testing to be done using validated methods (e.g., contaminants, disintegration, and solvent residue testing) and requiring disintegration testing for cannabis oil in capsules or similar dosage forms
  • Requiring notification to the Minister of Health prior to commencing a recall

The Liberals have promised legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes by Spring 2017. The New Democrats, who favoured decriminalization, have criticized the Liberals for not moving sooner to prevent people caught with small amounts of marijuana from incurring criminal records.

Heath Canada points out that “storefronts selling marijuana, commonly known as "dispensaries" and "compassion clubs” remain illegal under the new rules.

Health Canada states that “the ACMPR are designed to provide an immediate solution required to address the Court judgement.”

“Moving forward, Health Canada will evaluate how a system of medical access to cannabis should function alongside the Government's commitment to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana.”