The federal government is getting out of the medicinal marijuana business and is looking to move the prescribing responsibilities to doctors and the manufacturing to the private sector. Right now, the impact on plan sponsors is moot, but that could change.

Currently, medicinal marijuana doesn’t carry a drug identification number (DIN)—an eight-digit number assigned by Health Canada to a drug product prior to being marketed. All drug products need to have one of these under Canadian law.

“If [the drug] doesn’t have this number, it’s not considered a covered product by insurers,” says Mike Sullivan, president of Cubic Health.

Under the new proposal, “the government will no longer produce and distribute marihuana for medical purposes.” Rather, it would open up the market to companies that meet “strict security requirements,” says a Health Canada release.

The proposed new “aim to treat marihuana as much as possible like any other narcotic used for medical purposes,” allowing doctors to “sign a medical document similar to a prescription,” for patients to then purchase from an authorized vendor.

Sullivan says that if the transition goes smoothly and the private sector looks after the growing and the selling of medicinal marijuana, the likelihood of private vendors seeking approval from Health Canada (and, in turn, a DIN) is high.

“It’s going to be a huge business,” says Sullivan. “And I think it’s going to happen sooner than later. As soon as there is a DIN, it’s going to make it accessible to private plans.”

In the past decade, Health Canada’s has grown to more than 26,000 authorized persons, up from under 500 in 2002.

The government intends to fully implement the new system by March 31, 2014.

Copyright © 2021 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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Wayne Phillips:

As an individual who is Authorized To Possess cannabis for medical purposes and who stands to lose the right to a designated grower who provides for me monthly allotments of cannabis at no charge, I am compelled to speak out.

There are a number of inaccuracies presented in the article that, when convoluted as they’ve been, lead to misconceptions about both the program and its’ participants who, lest all forget, are the primary stakeholders here; not the various “services” agencies whose concerns the government acknowledges. This particular brand of bureaucratic disentitlement by Health Canada has resulted in MMAR participants being disregarded as stakeholders then painted in a less than favourable light to appease those various “services” sectors. The proposed model is supposedly meant to address their concerns but it won’t and here’s why.

Cannabis used medicinally doesn’t carry a drug identification number (DIN) because, technically, cannabis is not a drug, whether it is used “medicinally” or not; it is a herb with euphoric properties and, as such, it does not qualify as a drug product, plain and simple. This is easily verified by the fact that there are already synthesized versions that do carry a drug identification number (DIN), Cesamet is one; Marinol is another. By trying to categorize the plant only serves to further conflate that which is already improperly classified. Perhaps it would be prudent of the government to stop trying to make a “sow’s ear” out of the “silk purse” which God/nature provides before the Court does it for them.

This may come as a surprise to some but the government has never been in “the medicinal marijuana business”! The medicinal cannabis program (MMAR) is a Court-ordered entity which would have resulted in the laws pertaining to possession and production of cannabis being rendered null and void had Health Canada not complied (by creating MMAR). Furthermore, there have been at least eight occasions where the program has been successfully challenged constitutionally and amended. If the government were, in fact, in “the medicinal marijuana business” they would most certainly have qualified as poster child of the century for the most inept, even idiotic handling of an enterprise. Media would have picked up on that in an instant and had a field day with it. That hasn’t been the case. Instead there are only editorials and opinion pieces that have taken liberties with facts to sensationalize and support a wrong-headed notion that cannabis is a beguiling evil every bit as devastating as heroin. Cannabis isn’t even a narcotic, nor should it be categorized as one out of some banal attempt to appease bigotry and pretence.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the proposed new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations are more an indictment of Health Canada than it is of the current regulations or MMAR participants. Health Canada mismanaged the program to the extent that not only did the program garner complaints from various sectors, it has been deemed unconstitutional on so many occasions – 8 times in just over a decade – by the courts that it is a wonder that legislation pertaining to the possession and production of cannabis even currently exists at all!

So before the corporate sector goes into some giddy rapture over visions of profit, it should be fully understood that the vast majority of MMAR participants are on fixed incomes and won’t be able to afford the costs that Health Canada has bandied about. Nor should we be deprived of the access and affordability provided by the right to produce medication, the right to have a designated grower produce and provide it for us or the provisions that currently exist to accommodate those choices.

We have no intention on going like sheep to the slaughter on this.

Friday, December 21 at 1:20 am | Reply


There is no way that a plant will ever get a DIN, too many variables to meet the criteria.

Friday, December 21 at 9:40 am | Reply

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