Leading patient advocacy groups give recommendations to federal government task force on rules for medical cannabis as it examines legalization for recreational use

August 29, 2016

Three key points for medical cannabis patients: Simple and safe access to quality product; affordability, enabling drug insurance and eliminating sales taxes; more research to define doses and understand best uses

The Arthritis Society, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, Canadian Aids Society
TORONTO, Ontario – August 29, 2016 –
Three leading Canadian patient advocacy groups, along with 14 signatories, today presented to the federal government’s Task Force on the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana a brief highlighting the currently unmet needs of medical cannabis patients and how those needs should be addressed as part of the government’s commitment to legalize cannabis for personal use.

The brief makes specific recommendations under three broad categories: accessibility, affordability and research. It was prepared and presented by The Arthritis Society, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and the Canadian AIDS Society and built on extensive collaboration between patients, the scientific and medical communities, and medical cannabis experts. The submission is also supported by a broad cross-section of stakeholder signatories.

The groups make seven specific recommendations under the three broad themes:

ACCESSIBILITY

  1. Patients must have access to a supply of medical cannabis in all its forms and potencies that is regulated for safety, potency and quality.
  2. Patients must have access to a reliable supply of medical cannabis through a variety of distribution options.
  3. Patients must be informed about how to access medical cannabis as well as safe and effective use of different forms of medical cannabis (e.g., concentrates, dried flowers, edibles, etc.).

AFFORDABILITY

  1. Medical cannabis is a medical necessity and its cost should not be subject to GST, HST or provincial sales tax.
  2. The regulatory approach to medical cannabis must enable health insurance plans, both public and private, to be able to reimburse for medical cannabis as they do now for prescription drugs.

SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH

  1. The federal government must actively expand the evidence base on the medical use of cannabis through enhanced support and promotion of medical cannabis research.
  2. The federal government must use additional policy levers at its disposal to help support and promote research into medical cannabis.

“We are pleased the federal government is examining its position on all uses of cannabis but it is vital that those who use it for medical purposes have a regulatory, pricing and taxation system  similar to that for prescription drugs,” said Janet Yale, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society. “We know that medical cannabis is an effective therapy for thousands of Canadians with arthritis pain but we need to substantially expand the evidence base through enhanced investment in research.”

“The government must ensure that those who need cannabis for medical purposes are prioritized as we move into a legal regulatory system for recreational cannabis,” said Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana. “Legal access to cannabis for legitimate medical purposes must be treated differently, with appropriate laws and regulations to enhance access, increase affordability and bolster research.”

“In the new regulated system, we must ensure that Canadians living with HIV/AIDS have access to a safe, reliable and affordable source of access to cannabis to manage a variety of symptoms,” said Gary Lacasse, Executive Director, Canadian AIDS Society. “Our own research has been looking at barriers to access and suggesting ways to address them. Continued health services research will be important, as we implement a new system, to assess how well it is meeting the needs of patients.”

The full text of the associations’ submission is available here: The Arthritis Society / CFAMM.

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.  

About Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana

Founded in 2014, Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is a federal non-profit, patient-run organization dedicated to protecting and improving the rights of medical cannabis patients. CFAMM’s goal is to enable patients to obtain fair and safe access to medical cannabis with a special focus on affordability, including private and public insurance coverage. For more information, visit www.cfamm.ca.

About the Canadian AIDS Society

Incorporated since 1986, the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) is a national coalition of community-based AIDS organizations across Canada. CAS is dedicated to strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS across all sectors of society, and to enriching the lives of people and communities living with HIV/AIDS. For more information, please visit www.cdnaids.ca

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For further information contact:

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

Jonathan Zaid
Founder & Executive Director
Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana
226-444-8139
info@cfamm.ca

Dr. Lynne Belle-Isle
National Programs Manager
Canadian AIDS Society
C: 250-884-1609
lynne.belle-isle@cdnaids.ca