OTTAWA – Health Canada’s position on the risks of obtaining cannabis from dispensaries has been consistent: these facilities are unlicensed by the federal government, illegally supplied, and sell product that may be contaminated or otherwise unsafe.
The only legal commercial source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes in Canada is through purchase directly from one of the 35 producers licensed by Health Canada, which currently serve almost 82,000 Canadians. These licensed producers have always been required to test their product and the results are verified by Health Canada, and product that fails to meet strict standards is not released for sale.
With the recent entry into force of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), individuals with a medical need can now apply to Health Canada to grow a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes or designate someone to grow it on their behalf. In order to provide these individuals authorized under the new ACMPR regime with a means to test their product, should they so choose, Health Canada has issued a Section 56 exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to enable persons registered under the ACMPR, as well as individuals authorized to possess cannabis under a court injunction, to access testing services for dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil that they have produced.
Under no circumstances are individuals permitted to send, or testing facilities permitted to test, cannabis procured from illegal sources. Dispensaries and other such entities are illegal, and it would be inappropriate for the health product regulator to sanction consumer testing of product obtained from these sources.
The Government of Canada recognizes that Canada’s marijuana laws need updating, and has committed to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis. A Task Force is currently consulting Canadians on the next steps towards the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis.