Dear Herb: I live in Manitoba, and our provincial government won't let us grow recreational cannabis plants for the time being.
My question is this: I have a licence to buy medical cannabis from a licensed producer. Does that licence allow me to grow any cannabis for medicinal use? — Aspiring Home Gardener
Dear Aspiring: Good question.
No, your licence to purchase medical cannabis legally from a licensed producer does not entitle you to grow your own. For that, you'll need to register directly with Health Canada for a separate licence.
You can find all the relevant information online at this link, but let's quickly run through the process.
First, you'll need a doctor's authorization to use medical cannabis, which Health Canada calls a "medical document." Since you're already authorized to buy medical cannabis through the legal system, I'll assume you've already found a health-care practitioner who's willing to work with you on this.
That document will authorize you to use a specific amount of dried cannabis per day that will, in turn, determine how many plants you're allowed to grow and how much dried cannabis you can store at one time. (This varies depending on whether you want to grow inside, outside or both. Health Canada uses a special formula to determine the final number. For example, a daily authorization of two grams would allow you to grow 10 plants indoors and store 450 grams of dried marijuana.)Advertisement
Once you have your medical document, you'll have to fill out an 11-page registration form and mail it off to Health Canada. You can apply to grow your medical cannabis somewhere other than your home, but that adds a layer of complexity to the application. You can even apply to have a "designated grower" produce medical cannabis on your behalf, which involves yet another layer of red tape.
Unfortunately, these applications can take months for the government to process. If you're going to apply, I recommend you take extra care to read Health Canada's instructions and make sure the application's filled out properly before you submit it. That way, you can reduce the amount of time spent corresponding back and forth with Health Canada.
Even though the approvals take a long time, they are definitely happening. According to Health Canada data, 4,148 people were registered to grow their own medical cannabis at the end of April 2017. By the end of March this year, there were 14,707 active registrations.
If you make it through the application process, you'll get an official Health Canada registration certificate proving you're legally entitled to grow your own. But remember, you can't legally start growing your medical weed until everything's squared away and you get that certificate. (There's nothing stopping you from preparing your garden before you receive the government's approval — just don't actually plant anything.)
Once you have that certificate, the government of Manitoba won't be able to stop you from growing your own at home.
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