At the end of 2013 37000 Canadians received cannabis as medicine, a new rule in 2014 let this number increase a lot, the intended basic liberalisation will let this number increase even more.
Broad access to cannabis , lots of nonofficial dispensaries, looming legalisation in Canada
In Canada cannabis as medicine has been legal since 2001. In early 2014 a new regulation extended access to cannabis for medical purposes by lowering the threshold for obtaining it – now a mere recommendation by health care professionals suffices. Cannabis can be obtained through specifically licensed producers of which there are currently 34, primarily in Ontario. The sales price is between 5-12 Canadian dollars per gram. Moreover, persons who have used before already and/or already registered users are allowed to continue to grow their own.
This 2014 regulation many see as a „legalisation behind the veil of medicalisation“. Although cannabis dispensaries were not even part of the design officially, there are assumed to exist at least 60-70 in Toronto and close to 100 in Vancouver – but only 34 are licensed nationally. Initially there were 176 candidates for a special dispensary-license which costs an annual fee of 30,000 Canadian dollars. Some requirements are sufficient distance of the locations to schools and that the range of products comprises gel capsules and essences too, apart from traditional products. Edibles (cookies or candy) are prohibited. Owners of dispensaries shall not have been prosecuted for drug offences for 5 years.
Premier Justin Trudeau aims at legalisation in 2017, his government‘s draft on the basis of proposals by a group of experts is eagerly awaited. From the different range of regulation models a state-monopoly seems to have the best chance, including monitoring of the medical use of the products as well as duties for prevention and addiction therapy. This could lead to a more compatible balance between the conflicting free economy and health prevention as in Uruguay and contrary to the US model. Basically the market regulation of freely available cannabis might return control of the medical use of hemp back to the state. By completely legalising Canada would climb onto the winner‘s podium as the second country behind Uruguay. The breeze of legalisation is blowing to Canada from the Northwest of the USA quite neatly.