How the Possible Upcoming Legalization of Marijuana May Affect Medical Marijuana Users

By Roger Foisy on February 16th, 2017

Currently, the possession, distribution, and production of marijuana is illegal in Canada except for certain medicinal uses (studies show it can be effective to treat conditions including chronic pain, PTSD, and depression). However, in spring 2017 the Canadian federal government is expected to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) has published a blog addressing this topic, with particular attention to the current process for individuals to acquire medical marijuana and how the legalization could affect both those who use it for medical purposes and the general public.

To summarize:

Existing Process for Acquiring Medical Marijuana

  1. Consult with Healthcare Provider
  2. Acquire Medical Documentation Describing Daily Amount Needed
  3. Register with Licenced Producer (currently 21 authorized licensed producers in Ontario)
  4. Get Approval from Licenced Producer and Receive Delivery of Product (Directly to Patient’s Address)

Possible Effects of Legalization on the Public

Potential Business Effects:

  • Sales revenues expected to exceed that of alcohol, possibly becoming a $22.6 billion industry
  • Creation of jobs and tax revenue

Potential Negative Effects:

  • Research suggests increased health risks for those under 25 using marijuana
  • Increasing numbers of intoxicated drivers and subsequent motor vehicle accidents

Questions for Medical Users:

  • Will there be a lack of supply when recreational users also have access?
  • What will the costs or taxes be for medical vs recreational marijuana?
  • Will the increase in suppliers provide more options for medical users?
  • Will insurance cover medical marijuana?

Task Force Recommendations for Medical Access

In November 2016, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation released a detailed report of recommendations.

Their recommendations for protecting medical users included:

  • Maintain a separate medical access framework to support patients
  • Monitor and evaluate patients’ reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes
  • Action as required to ensure that the market provides reasonable affordability and availability and that regulations provide authority for measures that may be needed to address access issues
  • Review the role of designated persons under the ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations) with the objective of eliminating this category of producer
  • Apply the same tax system for medical and non-medical cannabis products
  • Promote and support pre-clinical and clinical research on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes, with the aim of facilitating submissions of cannabis-based products for market authorization as drugs
  • Support the development and dissemination of information and tools for the medical community and patients on the appropriate use of cannabis for medical purposes
  • Evaluate the medical access framework in five years

At present, we do not have clear answers to the questions raised by OTLA or knowledge of which recommendations the government will implement.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned in OTLA’s article, research indicates increased health risks for those under 25 using marijuana. Over the past few years, I have completed education courses and conferences regarding the brain, brain injury, and the brain’s development and function. Current studies suggest that the brain is still developing until the age of 25, and for this reason I personally believe the government should consider restricting the use of recreational marijuana to those who are 25 years or older.

While we await the final details from the federal government, it is important to note that possession of marijuana for personal (not medicinal) use is still illegal.

Roger R. Foisy is an experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact us for a free consultation and immediate support.

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