Over 4,000 now able to grow medical cannabis

As of May 1 there were 4,480 Canadians with active registrations for personal or designated cannabis cultivation. 17 new employees hired to help process.

Enrolment in Health Canada’s personal cultivation program has nearly doubled in less than three months, according to new figures from the agency. To handle this, Health Canada’s Office of Medical cannabis recently hired 17 new employees to help with processing and responding to questions.

As of May 1, 2017 there are now 4,480 Canadians with active registrations for personal or designated cultivation under the agency’s medical cannabis access program. The regulator says the average wait time is now ten weeks, although many patients still report waiting four months or more in some cases. Under the program, Health Canada authorizes registered patients to grow their own cannabis or choose a designated grower.

Enrolment is up significantly from figures Health Canada provided to Lift earlier this year, showing 2,554 individuals allowed to grow their own cannabis or designate someone to do so, with average processing time being about seven weeks.

In response to a request from Lift, Health Canada has provided an update on their personal and designated cultivation licensing program. Lift has been covering this issue since February, looking at wait times that have, according to several patients and physicians, been several months.

Gary Scott Holub, Media Relations Officer for the Government of Canada, says the wait times are dependent on the amount of applications received, as well as if the applications are processed properly by the patient and physician. The agency says they have provided expanded instructions for patients on filling out the associated forms.

Examples of commonly encountered issues include:

  • medical documents that do not appear to be original;

  • discrepancies between information in the medical document and the application form;

  • documents that are not signed by the applicant, or are signed incorrectly; or

  • the incorrect person is identified as the designated producer.

Holub says Health Canada began accepting applications for personal or designated cultivation in August 2016 and had 15 full time employees working on processing applications for home growing and designated growers during the 2016-2017 fiscal year (ending March 31), out of 74 employees at the Office of Medical Cannabis. They have recently hired 11 new client service representatives to help process applications, and six new client service representatives to respond to questions from Canadians about how to apply, or the status of their application.

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