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The Inside Story: Meet the man who can legally carry 4 pounds of marijuana

Last Updated Jul 3, 2015 at 11:23 am EST

A four-pound pot prescription put Jamshid Baharami back in the news, but it’s his bit role in the Rob Ford scandal that haunts him still.

Questions from Avery and Answers from Health Canada:

Q1: Under what circumstances would one person suffering rheumatoid arthritis be granted a medical marijuana certificate to carry 1800 grams (4 pounds) of marijuana?

Q2: If someone was granted a certificate to carry 1800 grams, would it trigger a red flag at Health Canada? If not, should it trigger a red flag?

A1 & 2:

Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada and has not gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy or safety.

Health Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana for medical purposes.

The Government opposes sale of marijuana in Canadian neighbourhoods or making marijuana more accessible to our kids. The Chiefs of Police have also been very clear that they do not support marijuana legalisation. The Government will always put the health and safety of families and communities first. While courts in Canada have ruled that the government must provide access to marijuana when authorized by a physician, our Government has put in place new regulations to better protect public health and safety.

Under the old Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), Health Canada reviewed applications and issued authorizations for individuals at the amounts as supported by their physician.

There were no restrictions on the daily amount that a physician could authorize for a patient. However, if the authorized amount was high, Health Canada verified the amount with the physician.

These regulations were ended on March 31, 2014, as they were open to serious abuse.

The new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) impose a maximum possession cap of the lesser of 150 grams of dried marijuana or 30 times their daily amount at any one time. For example, if an individual has a daily amount of 2 grams per day, their possession cap would be 60 grams.

Note that under the MMPR, the average authorized amounts have fallen to 4.5 g/day, down from approximately 18g/day under the old MMAR.

Q3: Does Health Canada have an active investigating unit when it comes to doctors prescribing medical marijuana, and if so, how many doctors are currently under investigation?

A3: The responsibility to assess a patient and decide on an appropriate treatment continues to rest with health care professionals.

Provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities are responsible for maintaining standards of medical practice, including physician conduct.

Under the MMAR, if Health Canada had reasonable grounds to believe that a physician had contravened a Code of Conduct established by the relevant medical regulatory authority, Health Canada contacted the relevant authority to provide this information.

Similarly, if Health Canada was in possession of evidence relating to illegal activity under the MMAR, this would be referred to law enforcement.

Health Canada then participated in any subsequent investigations by medical regulatory authorities or law enforcement.

Under the MMPR, clients authorized to use marijuana for medical purposes by their healthcare provider register with Licensed Producers.

If a Licensed Producer has reasonable grounds to believe that a physician had contravened a Code of Conduct established by the relevant medical regulatory authority, a Licensed Producer can contact the relevant authority to provide this information.

Minister Ambrose has directed Health Canada to work with the Licensed Producers of marijuana to enhance information-sharing with healthcare licensing authorities on how doctors and nurse practitioners are supporting the use of marijuana.