Changes made to ACMPR personal production application process
By Ross Middleton
Aug. 3, 2017
Anyone who has applied for a personal production certificate under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations can tell you that it is an arduous process of dealing with an understaffed bureaucracy “overwhelmed by the volume of applications”.
The program is nearly a year old now and the CTCP Society has been in regular contact with Health Canada demanding improvements.
In our most recent discussion with Health Canada on August 2, 2017, conducted by CTCP Society Director Lynda Hewton and witnessed by CTCP Society Secretary Ross Middleton, we were made aware of some new changes that the O.M.C. (Office of Medical Cannabis) has made in an attempt to speed up the process.
Before we get to the changes, a little background.
Since August 24th, 2016, when Health Canada announced it’s new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, applicants have faced unreasonable processing delays related specifically to personal production applications.
Although Health Canada announced several months ago that extra resources would be added to help improve wait times, it appears that most of those resources were focused on the Section 1 Licenced Producer process with only a small percentage applied to Section 2 Personal Production applications.
Although it would seem that more front line help phone workers were added, little was done to deal with the actual processing of applications.
Adding to delays are the over exaggerated precautionary measures like calling doctors who prescribe more than 10 grams per day to “confirm” that the doctor really wants to prescribe that much and other unnecessary measures leading to gridlock.
Backdating certificates to the date it was signed by the doctor rather than the date they approved it (often up to 20 weeks) has robbed patients of valuable time. Legal action in the form of a class action lawsuit is currently being considered by some of the leading cannabis lawyers in Canada and we hope this adds enough pressure to force the O.M.C. to address these issues.
Now we are nearly a year into the program and patients are starting to file for renewals and are expected to allow at least 12 weeks or more for processing of a simple renewal.
All this falls short of the remedy ordered by Justice M. Phelan in his ruling on the Allard et al v. HMTQ case calling for “reasonable access”.
This brings us back to the recent changes mentioned at the beginning of this article.
During Ms. Hewton’s discussion with the Health Canada representative she asked for the status of her own renewal (sent in May, 2017) and was told that her renewal was in the final stages of approval. Lynda then asked bluntly;
“Why is it taking so long to approve a renewal with no changes”?
“Is it because you are bothering my doctor with more questions about the amount”?
The Health Canada attendant (who really did seem to be trying to help) then informed Lynda that she did not think that they would be calling her doctor again as they had recently changed the limit for triggering a contact with the doctor (widely thought to be 10 grams per day till now).
Lynda immediately switched gears and began making inquiries on behalf of the CTCP Society.
After identifying herself as a director of the non-profit organization, she asked what the new “trigger amount” is so we can inform our membership and the public at large.
Lynda was put on hold at this point while the attendant consulted her supervisor. When the attendant came back she informed Lynda that although she can’t tell her the specific amount, she could say that Lynda’s prescribed amount did not exceed the new limit and this change would help speed up the process as they would be spending less time calling doctors.
Lynda’s prescription amount was for 19 grams per day leaving us to deduce that the new limit is 20 grams per day.
Lynda then asked if there was anything she could tell patients applying for a renewals when helping them fill out the application to speed up the process and was told “tell them if they put something on the outside of the envelope” that indicates there is a “time sensitive renewal enclosed”.
After hanging up, Lynda and I chuckled because we knew that the suggestion of marking the outside of the envelope was a direct result and a direct quote from the label that I had affixed to my own renewal sent in in May. (see photo).
Links to Discussions between the author and Health Canada are also included below.
Other discussions with Health Canada