Ottawa Tables Final Rules for Medical Marijuana, Gives Pharmacists a Reprieve

The Canadian Press, June 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ottawa Tables Final Rules for Medical Marijuana, Gives Pharmacists a Reprieve


New medical marijuana rules help pharmacists

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OTTAWA - After two years of study and discussion, the federal government has finalized new rules for medical marijuana and granted a reprieve to pharmacists who opposed the rules in their draft form.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq rolled out the regulations today for formal publication in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday.

Under the new regime, the government will no longer produce or distribute medical pot and medical marijuana users will no longer be allowed to grow the product at home.

Health Canada said since the medical marijuana program was introduced in 2001, it has expanded to 30,000 people from the original 500 authorized to use the product.

"This rapid increase has had unintended consequences for public health, safety and security as a result of allowing individuals to produce marijuana in their homes," the department said in a news release.

"Under the new regulations, production will no longer take place in homes and municipal zoning laws will need to be respected, which will further enhance public safety."

Under the new regulations, the government will allow patients to buy prescribed amounts only from licensed growers who will be required to meet strict conditions.

In previous versions of the regulations, pharmacies were to distribute the product just like other medications, provoking concern from pharmacists, who expressed concerns about dispensing a product without sufficient research. They also cited security concerns.

The final version removes the pharmacists from the loop, leaving patients to rely on mail order for their medical marijuana.

"While the courts have said that there must be reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes, we believe that this must be done in a controlled fashion in order to protect public safety," Aglukkaq said in a statement.

"These changes will strengthen the safety of Canadian communities while making sure patients can access what they need to treat serious illnesses."

She used similar reasoning last week when she introduced new hurdles for the creation of supervised drug-injection sites in response to a court ruling. …

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