Statement on Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. v. Smith

July 8, 2015

The purpose of this statement is to provide clarity and guidance regarding access to marijuana for medical purposes, further to the June 11, 2015, Supreme Court of Canada decision R v. Smith.

Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada and has not gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy or safety.  Canadian courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes when authorized by a physician.  The Government of Canada’s position is that this must be done in a controlled fashion to protect public health and safety.

To this end, Health Canada implemented the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) in 2013, setting out strict controls over the production and sale of marijuana. The MMPR include stringent requirements with which licensed producers must demonstrate compliance, including quality control standards, record keeping of all activities and inventories, and physical security measures to protect against potential diversion. The MMPR also require key personnel, along with directors and officers in the case of a corporation, to hold a security clearance granted under the regulations. In particular, the MMPR provide for rigorous oversight to reduce public health, safety, and security risks.

As a result of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, individuals authorized to possess marijuana under the MMPR and those falling under the terms of a court injunction (for example, Allard injunction) may now possess marijuana derivatives for their own use‎. ‎In order to eliminate uncertainty around a legal source of supply of marijuana, Health Canada has taken the immediate step of issuing a section 56 exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), allowing licensed producers to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh marijuana buds and leaves in addition to dried marijuana (plant material that can be used to propagate marijuana will not be permitted to be sold by licensed producers to clients). The role of healthcare practitioners in authorizing marijuana for medical purposes does not change.

Licensed producers must continue to comply with all provisions of the MMPR or the Department may take enforcement action.

Read full statement on the Government of Canada Website