The medical marihuana Health Canada program has grown immensely over the past decade. According to Health Canada, the market for MMJ Canada products grew an astounding 40% in just six months. These gains pave the way for the successful sale of legal weed Canada in 2018.
However, some are worried that the medical marihuana Health Canada program may decline once weed is legal for recreational use. Many U.S. states, for instance, saw applications for medical marihuana programs drop once recreational weed was legalized.
With legalization of recreational weed in 2018, some are wondering what will happen to the success of medical marihuana programs?
Medical Marihuana Registrants Increasing
According to the latest figures released by Health Canada, the number of people registered for the medical marihuana Health Canada program jumped 40% from March 2017 to September 2017. That’s a 40% increase in just 6 months!
Overall, the program has nearly 240,000 medical marihuana users across Canada. That equals 0.6% of the country’s nearly 37 million people.
Alberta saw the largest increase in registered users. It shows 30,000 new medical marihuana Health Canada program registrants from April to September 2017.
Sales of dried flowers for medical patients reached an average of 2,000 kg a month across all of Canada. Cannabis oil and concentrates were slightly more popular, reaching as high as 2,578 kg sold in the month of September.
Medical Marihuana Health Canada program registration numbers started off slow when the Supreme Court legalized the drug for medicinal use in 2001. Since last year, the growth of the industry has really taken off.
According to investment advice website The Motley Fool, Canada’s medical program “is running circles” around its neighbour to the south thanks to Health Canada’s guidance. The agency’s responsibilities include approving growing licenses and ensuring that demand and supply remain somewhat at balance.
Deadline for Legal Weed Canada Looms Large
The success of Health Canada’s medical marihuana program should spark excitement. However, not everyone feels the same about the pending legalization of recreational weed in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recreational marihuana legalization bill has made it through the Canadian Parliament’s House of Commons, with a 200-82 vote last November.
However, each Canadian province has the responsibility to set up its own framework for legal recreational pot sales.
Millions across Canada are eager to see what each province decides. Some worry that legalizing recreational marihuana could complicate things for members of the MMJ Canada program.
For one, Trudeau and others in parliament have been advocating an equivalent excise tax for legal weed in Canada. That would essentially mean forcing a higher price on all existing MMJ Canada users.
The equivalent tax is to discourage recreational users from simply registering as a medical patient to get lower prices. However, others disagree… “Let’s tax 99% of legitimate medical patients because there are a small number that are hiding behind ‘medical’ to save $1,” writes one MMJ advocate on Twitter. “Is that how we create policy in Canada?”
Legal Weed in Canada Could Lead to Lower Registrants
Another issue comes from declining participation in programs like the MMJ Canada registry once recreational bud becomes legal.
This trend has been observed in U.S. states like Colorado. According to industry data, the number of MMJ cardholders in Colorado dropped 7% in 2015. Applications for MMJ cards also slowed down.
Meanwhile, Colorado’s recreational marihuana sales exploded with 86% growth from 2014 to 2015. In comparison, medical sales only grew 5% over the same period.
Some skeptics point to these declining numbers as evidence that medical card holders were “faking it” to get high legally. A more likely explanation is that those who would normally have to pay for a doctor’s visit to get a prescription are skipping that process.
Other problems arrive with pricing. Traditionally, medical marihuana users see an increase in prices once recreational pot becomes legal. This comes from a variety of market factors, including huge spikes in demand.
Medical marihuana users in Nevada, for instance, saw prices spike so high that some went back to the black market and purchased weed illegally.
Some dispensaries offset this issue by offering incentives and discounts to medical cardholders. Other dispensaries continue to cater exclusively to medical clientele.
Benefits to MMJ Canada Cardholders
Although there is fear of higher prices and long lines when recreational weed becomes legal, medical marihuana users should sleep easy.
Melissa Sherrard of Civilized says that access to legal medical marihuana will not become more difficult. “On the contrary, medical marijuana patients have actually seen their rights to access and possess cannabis strengthen once recreational weed is legalized.”
Other benefits she points out include the fact that doctors will be less in demand for people looking to treat things like anxiety with medical marihuana. This scenario lets patients with serious chronic conditions like AIDs, cancer and Parkinson’s find better, personalized treatments.
Finally, legalization of recreational weed tends to invite larger players to the table. Medical cannabis growers in Canada are already so efficient with their output that they could start to export the drug internationally.
In a situation where operations are huge and distribution is growing, the result is that prices go down. People also earn access to a greater diversity of medical and recreational cannabis products.
Overall, it seems like members of the medical marihuana Health Canada program have more to be excited about than to fear when legal weed Canada hits the streets.
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