From its first banning in 1923 to legalization in 2018, the history of legalized cannabis in Canada is a long and winding road. Cannabis was first prohibited in Canada in 1923. It was  listed in Schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act of 1996. However, there was evidence that cannabis products could be an effective treatment for certain medical conditions.

In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada found that restricting use for medical purposes was unconstitutional. Subsequently, the Government of Canada introduced the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) in 2001 to legalize cannabis for medical use.

In 2002, there were 477 individuals in Canada who could legally possess cannabis for medical purposes. By 2012, this jumped to almost 22,000 people, overwhelming government facility resources. In June 2013, the federal government replaced the MMAR with the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). This essentially set up the guidelines for a commercial Licensed Producer system.

In July 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada found that restricting legal access to only dried cannabis was unconstitutional. In response, a new system was put into place called the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) in August 2016. It clarified some of the licensed producers’ (LP) responsibilities and roles, including being able to provide other cannabis products.

Cannabis Legalized for First Time in History

ACMPR was repealed when dried cannabis for adult use was legalized on October 17, 2018 under the Cannabis Act. However, its regulations set out the framework for today’s Licensed Producer system with some modifications. Health Canada is still the licensing body for cannabis cultivation, processing, testing, research, and sale for medical use. Licences for retail cannabis sale are under the control of the individual provinces and territories. They also had the right to control sales through government-controlled retail systems, to privatize, or to allow both.

As of May 2019, the Government of Canada plans to legalize cannabis edibles, extracts, and topicals no later than October 17, 2019.