article The medical marijuana market has been growing steadily, with prices rising and a growing demand for a product that could alleviate chronic pain.
The industry, however, is also growing increasingly complicated and pricey, as companies and governments wrestle with whether it’s legal or not.
In Ontario, for example, the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act passed last month allows the cultivation and sale of marijuana, but the government has yet to establish rules for how it will regulate the cannabis supply and distribution.
The government is also considering a proposal to allow the production and distribution of medicinal marijuana in Quebec.
The National Health Board says there are about 1,000 licensed producers in Canada, of which roughly 100 are in Ontario, and about 20 are in Quebec, according to an agency press release.
But the issue of who gets to supply the marijuana supply in Canada is a vexing one.
The provincial and federal governments are working to make sure that patients and medical marijuana patients have the right to access medical marijuana in the provinces they live in.
So far, the federal government has allocated $15 million to support the provinces in their efforts to make the marijuana system work in their own communities, said Dr. Andrew McKeon, the director of the Centre for the Study of Cannabis and Drug Policy at the University of Ottawa.
The federal government also announced $25 million over the next two years to support research into the benefits of medical marijuana.
“These are the sorts of things that are going to make it easier for doctors to provide that support, to make that happen,” said McKeons co-director, Dr. Stephen Biernat.
“And the sooner we can have that happen, the better off we’ll all be.”
But the process for establishing rules and regulating a legal marijuana market in Canada could be as complicated as it is expensive.
The Ontario Medical Cannabis Commission says it has received more than 4,000 applications from people who are looking to grow and use medical marijuana, including about 1 in every 10 applications from patients, but has yet, in fact, to hear back.
“This is not a regulated industry,” said Dr, Julie Macdonald, a senior advisor to the commission.
“This is a very nascent market.”
But she said that, with the support of the federal and provincial governments, Ontario would be well positioned to develop rules and regulate the market.
“The government has said it wants to make a good start, so we’re trying to make progress,” she said.
McKeon said Ontario is not alone in looking to create a regulated medical marijuana sector in Canada.
In Alberta, a province that already has legalized recreational marijuana use, the provincial government has also committed $50 million over five years to help establish regulations and standards for the supply and sale, and to support researchers into the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
In Manitoba, the province’s marijuana market is growing quickly, with about 4,500 licences already issued, with another 3,000 waiting to be awarded.
The new rules will help the province develop rules for medical marijuana dispensaries, which will allow the industry to be more transparent and regulated, said Mike Leblanc, the deputy minister of the province.
Leblanc also said that the province will have to take into account the different needs of patients, who have different needs in different situations.
“If we want to give patients access to marijuana, we want them to have access to the right strain and to the quality of the strain, to the variety and to get the best product,” he said.
But in order to do that, he said the province must ensure patients are protected.
“I think if we can make sure we are protecting people and ensuring that they have the proper access to that product and the proper quality and that they are not getting an unbalanced product,” Leblanche said.
“We have to make some allowances for that.”
In Nova Scotia, the government is working to establish guidelines for the use of medical cannabis by Nova Scotians, who are already protected under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
“As the medical use of cannabis becomes more and more accessible, the medical needs of the population will increasingly be met,” said Nova Scotia Health Minister Mike Friesen.
“By setting standards for medical use, we can ensure that patients are adequately supported, have access, and that access is based on their needs.”
For some, the challenge is to find an affordable product that meets their needs and is safe.
“It’s a bit of a challenge to find something that is safe and affordable,” said Scott Roper, an associate professor at the School of Health Sciences at the City University of New York.
“But there are some really innovative companies that are looking at the market and are looking into how they can create new products to address some of these issues.”
In New York, some of the new products have been created by startups, but many of the companies are owned by medical marijuana