In 2014, Canada has made history by becoming one of the first countries in the world to create a federal program that allows patients to legally access medical cannabis from commercial producers.

The program, which was established under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), allows physicians and certain nurse practitioners to issue medical documents for cannabis. These medical documents, which function like prescriptions, allow patients to legally order medical cannabis from licensed producers (LPs) online or over the phone and have their orders mailed directly to their homes.

Since the launch of the MMPR regime, many patients have begun to consider whether medical cannabis is right for them and how they can gain legal access to it. The best place to start is a conversation with your primary care physician.

To help patients with this process, the Canadian Medical Cannabis Council has created this step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Consult with your physician. Both of you should agree that conventional treatments for your symptoms have been tried or considered, and have been judged to be ineffective or inappropriate.

Step 2: Together with your physician, complete a medical document (you can download the form from Health Canada here). Have your physician fax the completed medical document to the LP of your choice. Medical documents may also be submitted online by your physician in certain cases, or via mail by either you or your physician.

A full list of licensed producers is available here . To determine which LP is best for you, we recommend reading this article.

Step 3: Complete and submit a patient registration. Depending on the LP, the patient registration can be submitted online, via mail and/or fax. The patient registration can be submitted either together with the medical document or separately.

Step 4: When your medical document has been verified and your registration has been approved, go to you LP’s website or call them by phone. You’ll be asked to provide your unique patient identifier (issued by the LP) for authentication purposes.  

Step 5: Place your order.

Every 30 days, you may order up to 30 times the daily limit recommended by your physician, provided each order does not exceed 150 grams.

Step 6:  When you receive your order, consume your cannabis in the quantity and with the method recommended by your physician. Be certain to keep your cannabis out of reach of children.

While there is still some way to go before cannabis is recognized as a mainstream medicine, steady progress on patient access may soon make that a reality.