Health Canada opens door to home-grown medical cannabis, but leaves key questions unanswered

August 11, 2016 | The Arthritis Society

Announcement fails to address need for affordability, research

TORONTO – August 11, 2016 – The new medical cannabis access regulations published today by Health Canada support recommendations previously made by The Arthritis Society, along with Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), in that they broaden patients’ access to medical cannabis by including the option to grow it at home, with certain restrictions.

Different patients have different needs, and – as a federal court ruled earlier this year – it is important that regulations respect patient choice in terms of distribution options. Health Canada’s release indicates that other distribution models are being explored to provide more access to medical cannabis.

Despite these important changes, however, many key questions remain unanswered, notably affordability and the lack of evidence-based guidelines. 

“Cannabis for medical purposes is still treated differently from prescription drugs,” explains Janet Yale, president and CEO of The Arthritis Society. “It’s still subject to sales tax and it’s not eligible for insurance coverage, making it difficult for some patients to afford treatment. Nor does this announcement address the critical need for research to establish evidence-based guidelines for patients and physicians. There’s more work to be done.”

Earlier this year The Arthritis Society called on the federal government to remove barriers to affordability, and to support research into medical cannabis through a five-year, $25-million funding commitment, modernized research licensing policies and the creation of a Centre of Excellence in medical cannabis research.

“As the federal government develops its approach to regulating cannabis for recreational purposes, it is critical that the needs of patients remain in focus,” says Yale.

ABOUT THE ARTHRITIS SOCIETY 
The Arthritis Society has been setting lives in motion for over 65 years. Dedicated to a vision of living well while creating a future without arthritis, The Society is Canada's principal health charity providing education, programs and support to the over 4.6 million Canadians living with arthritis. Since its founding in 1948, The Society has been the largest non‐government funder of arthritis research in Canada, investing over $190 million in projects that have led to breakthroughs in the diagnosis, treatment and care of people with arthritis. The Arthritis Society is accredited under Imagine Canada's Standards Program. For more information and to make a donation, visit www.arthritis.ca. 

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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 

Douglas Emerson 
National manager, communications 
The Arthritis Society 
W: 416.979.7228 x3348 
C: 647.706.0440 
demerson@arthritis.ca