Participation in Health Canada’s personal cannabis cultivation program continues to grow, even as many still wait several months for approval.
In response to a request for an update from Lift, the regulator says that as of August 31 there were 10,547 Canadians registered either to grow their own cannabis or as designated growers for others, up from from 6,880 at the end of June 31, 2017. Processing time for these registrations also continues to increase, with the regulator saying it’s anywhere from 8-16 weeks to process an application, while some patients are saying it’s taken up to six months to process their application.
The uptick in application approvals, an increase of over 50% in two months, was aided by the hiring of over 30 new employees earlier this year to help process applications. Health Canada says they have processed more than 15,000 applications since the program began in August, 2016.
The program, introduced in August of last year, re-introduced legislation that allows patients who register with Health Canada to grow a limited number of plants for their own purpose, or to designate an authorized grower to do so for them. Health Canada had formerly allowed home production under a previous medical marijuana regime, the Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR), but halted new applications with the introduction of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in 2014.
Interest in the program quickly created a backlog, with over 2,500 people seeking to register in the first six months or so, and over 4,000 by May, forcing Health Canada to hire 17 new employees to help manage the process. The regulator says they added 21 employees in April and May of this year and an additional 11 in June.
Medical cannabis patients Lift spoke to earlier this year reported waiting several months, some waiting up to six months for an application that only lasts a year from when it was originally sent in, or less, depending on the doctor's authorization policy.
Health Canada says the time to review applications is “highly dependent upon the number of applications received and the quality or the completeness of the applications” and depends on variables like response time from signing doctors.
The registration for personal cannabis cultivation is about two pages long, mostly requiring personal information, location of the grow and a signature from a doctor.
While some physicians have expressed reluctance to be the gatekeepers of who can grow their own cannabis for medical purposes, other companies have sprouted up that are catering to this demand, some advertising graduated rates depending on how many plants are to be approved.
“The time to review an application and issue a registration certificate is highly dependent upon the number of applications received, and the quality or the completeness of the applications. It also depends on the response time of applicants or healthcare practitioners, who may be contacted by our client service representatives to verify information or to provide additional clarification.” -Health Canada
Feature image via /u/Craigson