Is It legal to grow medical marijuana in Canada?
Producers VS. Grow Your Own
Grow your own medical cannabis legally.
Marijuana dispensaries across Canada are experiencing supply shortages as the recent legalization of recreational marijuana passed in October of 2018. Have you considered growing your own medical marijuana at home or designating a grower? It’s easy to see how growing your own marijuana would seem a legitimate option and for some – it is. There are numerous benefits to growing your own weed but have you explored all the requirements? Some beginners join the growing community without the correct material or experience and it can become an overwhelming responsibility. The purpose of this article is to prepare you with the information you need to make that decision for yourself.
Do you qualify to grow your own medical marijuana?
If you have qualified for a medical marijuana prescription, then chances are good that you could be approved to grow your own. Health Canada passed legislation in 2006 that made it possible for medical marijuana patients to grow a certain number of plants based on projected yield and your dosage as outlined in your medical documentation. There are a variety of factors they consider when reviewing your application but you must:
- live in Canada
- be 18 years of age or older
- attest that you have not been convicted of a marijuana related offense
- not be registered more than once at any time
Approval to grow your own is at the discretion of Health Canada and this application process will require medical documentation that proves you are a qualified medical marijuana patient. A prescription to use medical marijuana as treatment for, or part of a treatment plan for, an illness is different than the documentation required to grow your own.
If you are applying to grow your own medical marijuana, you will submit your registration application and medical documentation to Health Canada for approval. If you choose to designate a grower, then an additional declaration will be required. Once submitted, if your application is complete and meets the requirements, Health Canada will send you a registration certificate. This certificate confirms that you are approved to grow your own medical marijuana, outlines the number of plants you may grow and how much dried marijuana you can store.
It’s important to remember that cultivating your crop will take time so you will want to register with a licensed producer in the meantime for interim supply or in the situation that your crop under produces.
Do I still need a certificate to grow post legalization?
Legalization of recreational marijuana by the Cannabis Act in October of 2018 made it possible for SOME Canadians to grow up to four plants for their personal use. For more information on Canada’s legalization go here However, if you live in Quebec, Manitoba or Nunavut or if you need to grow more than four plants – you will still require a certificate to grow. Furthermore, there are guidelines that restrict how and where you can grow recreational marijuana as mandated by your provincial government.
Technically, if you have been approved to grow for medical purposes you may still be able to grow the additional four recreational plants. Just make sure you’re operating within the parameters set out by your provincial and federal governments.
What will I need to start growing?
Like cultivating any other plant – you’ll need the basics; seeds or clones, adequate lighting, nutrients and watering, space, etc. But what you’ll need to pay special attention to is the responsibilities of growing this plant. Similar to Health Canada’s guidelines for who can grow there are also regulations dictating where and how you can grow your medical marijuana. Some provinces require fencing and security measures, some allow indoor but not outdoor and you’ll also need to ensure you are operating within the framework set out by where you live. Many landlords will not allow any growing by renters. Whether that is contestable by a medical marijuana patient who’s been granted approval to grow medical marijuana by Health Canada – is often at the discretion of the land or home owner.
You will also need to understand how this plant grows ideally and how you can create optimal growing conditions. Ventilation is key for high yield cannabis and to avoid mold settling in your home but this can be tricky to organize for beginners. You may want to consider investing in a grow “tent” or “cabinet” – there are several options on the market. Like other crops, marijuana can attract unfavorable tenants like spider mites, fungus gnats, powdery mildew and grey mold – so make sure you are prepared to deal with those as well.
Growing your own medical marijuana can be rewarding and help keep the costs of your treatment low. You should expect to invest significantly your first year or two but should be able to offset those costs in the future as you gain knowledge and experience.
As we know, marijuana is grown to provide numerous health benefits of two particular compounds: THC and CBD. Our page on Medical Cannabis outlines these compounds in detail here If you are growing your own medical marijuana, then you will want to have your marijuana tested to determine the levels of these compounds and various other elements. Lab results will give you more detailed information on the presence of mold, fungus, pesticides and potency. Without completing these tests, you risk inhaling or consuming dangerous spores that could drastically compromise your health.
There are over 50 laboratories Health Canada has approved to test marijuana and they offer a variety of tests including microbiological screening, potency analysis, and microbial screening or APC (Aerobic Plate Count). The cost varies from $70 to $300+ CAD to have you sample tested (although some labs offer discounted rates for testing multiple samples.) There are a number of labs that provide at-home test kits and you will be required to send .5 grams up to 5 grams depending on the tests that are requested and which lab you choose. Turnaround time to receive results can range from two or three days up to a few weeks.
There are many things to consider when making the decision to grow your own medical marijuana. You can diffuse the costs of your therapy by growing your own medicine, but it will take time. Register with a reputable licensed producer to ensure no interruption to your dosage whether you have an under producing crop or are simply waiting for delayed test results. Make sure that you understand the regulations in your province and that you have the necessary paperwork and certifications to begin propagation. Patients often express how healing it can be to grow your own medicine. To know where it comes from and the care that supports its growth can be a very rewarding experience.