Health Canada’s new program that allows for authorized patients to grow their own cannabis for medical purposes is seeing a growing interest from Canadians.
André Gagnon, Media Relations Officer for Health Canada, told Lift in an update today that as of February 9th of this year, there are 2,554 individuals with an active Health Canada registration to produce cannabis for their own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for them.
According to Gagnon, the average processing time of individual registrations is currently about seven weeks, and variations in processing time from person to person can be caused “by a number of factors including the completeness of the information submitted, the need to verify certain information contained in the application, or the volume of applications received.”
“Health Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians authorized to use medical cannabis have safe and reliable access to the product,” says Gagnon, “and the Department is processing these applications as quickly as possible to ensure they are approved promptly.”
The new program, introduced in August of last year, once again 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 the MMAR program, but halted new applications with the introduction of the MMPR in 2014.
A court challenge of this move created an injunction for many who were authorized to grow under the old system, and eventually resulted in a court case that essentially forced the government to re-introduce home production rules.
When the program was first introduced, some patients reported on social media that they received their completed paperwork back within a matter of weeks. Since then, more and more reports from patients indicate wait times are now a matter of months, not weeks. With a current average processing time of about seven weeks and early applications initially taking only a few weeks, one can conclude that current applications are taking longer than the average of seven weeks.
A patient who receives authorization from Health Canada to grow their own cannabis or to designate a grower for them can then purchase ‘starting material’ in the form of clones or seeds from a handful of licensed producers currently making them available. Once a licensed producer is chosen as a source of starting materials, the same registration can be used to purchase dried cannabis in the interim period while the patient waits for their crop to be ready.
Featured image via Brad Martin.