Accessing cannabis for medical purposes has been a legal right in Canada for nearly 20 years, but the federal government went a step further this week by naming it an essential service.
In its Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic document, the feds have included “cannabis for medical purposes” under critical infrastructure for the health of Canadians.
“Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government,” the critical services document reads.
The move follows a petition with almost 2,900 signatures opened last Thursday asking for medical weed to be federally recognized as essential.
The document notes how access to medical cannabis could come under threat in the current crisis.
“The only way to legally access medical cannabis is directly from licensed medical sellers through the mail; as mail service is scaled back, patients may face barriers/delays to accessing their treatment, forcing them into the unregulated market, increasing the potential of COVID-19 infection drastically and putting elderly and immunocompromised patients at severe risk,” the petition reads.
President and CEO of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) Gerald Major initiated the petition and it was backed by NDP MP Don Davies of Vancouver Kingsway.
#MedicalCannabis has been deemed an essential service federally! Thanks to the 2600+ Canadians who signed our petition, @CDNAIDS, @WoundWarriorCA, @ArthritisSoc, @shecanncannabis @NORMLcanada, @Cannabis_Canada & all who pushed this forward. https://t.co/zqn8MnV23B
— CFAMM (@CFAMMcan) April 2, 2020
The current set of essential services and functions was developed in consultation with industry representatives, the federal government said. Public Safety Canada will continually consult on, and amend the list as events unfold.
In 2001, the Canadian government passed the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), the first laws to affirm access to medical cannabis as a legal right.
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