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Medical marijuana programs: implications for control policy – observations from Canada
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Drug Policy, ISSN 0955-3959, Vol. 26, no 1, 15-19 p.Article in journal, Editorial material (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While prohibition has been the dominant regime of cannabis control in most countries for decades, anincreasing number of countries have been implementing cannabis control reforms recently, includingdecriminalization or even legalization frameworks. Canada has held out from this trend, although ithas among the highest cannabis use rates in the world. Cannabis use is universally criminalized, and thecurrent (conservative) federal government has vowed not to implement any softening reforms to cannabiscontrol. As a result of several higher court decisions, the then federal government was forced to implementa ‘medical marijuana access regulations’ program in 2001 to allow severely ill patients therapeutic useand access to therapeutic cannabis while shielding them from prosecution. The program’s regulationsand approval processes were complex and subject to extensive criticism; initial uptake was low andmost medical marijuana users continued their use and supply outside the program’s auspices. This year,the government introduced new ‘marijuana for medical purposes regulations’, which allow physicians to‘authorize’ medical marijuana use for virtually any health condition for which this is considered beneficial;supply is facilitated by licensed commercial producers. It is expected that some 500,000 users, and dozensof commercial producers will soon be approved under the program, arguably constituting – as withmedical marijuana schemes elsewhere, e.g. in California – de facto ‘legalization’. We discuss the questionwhether the evolving scope and realities of ‘medical cannabis’ provisions in Canada offer a ‘sneaky sidedoor’ or a ‘better third way’ to cannabis control reform, and what the potential wider implications are ofthese developments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 26, no 1, 15-19 p.
Keyword [en]
Medical marijuana, Canada, cannabis control, medicalization, policy
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109122DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.09.007OAI: diva2:767350
Available from: 2014-12-01 Created: 2014-11-13 Last updated: 2015-03-03Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://10.1016/j.drugpo.2014.09.007

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