Medical cannabis registrations declining

| Staff

The number of Canadians registered to grow medical cannabis is now declining after several years of consistent increases.

Updated information recently provided by Health Canada shows that the number of medical client registrations with federally licensed sellers fell 4% from 257,059 in December 2021 to 247,548 in March 2022.

The number of individuals registered with Health Canada for personal and designated cultivation of cannabis for their own medical purposes also decreased 14% from 41,760 in December 2021 to 35,754 in March 2022.

While overall medical registrations through licensed producers have been declining since mid-2019, registrations jumped up significantly in mid-2020, potentially connected to COVID-19 since the medical access program allows for online ordering and direct-to-home deliveries. These figures level out again by the beginning of 2021, continuing an overall downward trend.

Although authorizations for personal or designated growers have been trending upward for some time, there was also a significant spike in authorizations in the same time period, potentially also related to COVID-19 lockdown measures. These kinds of registrations peaked in September 2021 before beginning a rapid decline.

The majority of the decrease of 6,006 in registrations for personal/designated production is from three Provinces: Ontario with a decrease of 2,067 registrations, British Columbia with 1,207, and Quebec with 1,458. However, there were declines in every province except the Northwest Territories, which stayed even at 10, and Nunavut, which remains at 0. 

The majority of individuals (247,548) who access cannabis for medical purposes under the Cannabis Act and its regulations do so by purchasing their cannabis from a federally licensed producer.

Another approximately 35,800 individuals are registered with Health Canada for personal or designated production.

Active personal/designated production registrations

The average daily amount authorized by health care practitioners for individuals who are registered with Health Canada for personal or designated production has also declined, although only slightly, from 44.5 grams a day as of December 2021 to 44.2 grams per day as of March 2022. The average daily prescribed amount of cannabis under the medical cannabis program is about 2 grams and has stayed in that range for several years. 

Health Canada says they have seen a “progressive and concerning increase in the average daily amount being authorized by some health care practitioners in some jurisdictions.”

Active client registrations with a federal licence holder

The amount of healthcare practitioners willing to sign authorizations for medical cannabis access has also begun declining. 

There were 6,946 healthcare practitioners associated with registrations made in the previous twelve months with federally licensed sellers, down from 7,269 as of December 2021. 

There were 1,636 healthcare practitioners associated with active personal/designated production registrations, compared with 1,817 in the previous reporting period. 

Of these, 365 health care practitioners (HCP) authorized amounts equal to or above 25 grams per day, and 25 authorized amounts equal to or above 100 grams per day. There were 388 HCPs authorizing amounts equal to or above 25 grams per day as of Dec 2021.

The number of HCPs associated with these kinds of authorization totals declined in most provinces except Alberta, where it stayed even at 20 and Nova Scotia, where it increased from 11 in December 2021 to 14 in March 2022. 

The majority (78%) of HCPs having authorized amounts equal to or above 25 grams per day were located in British Columbia and Ontario. Similarly, 100% of health care practitioners having authorized amounts equal to or above 100 grams per day were located in British Columbia and Ontario.

There were 6,405 personal or designated registration applications processed in the first three months of 2022, with 98% of applications being processed within eight weeks. There were 95 registrations refused in the same time period, and 17 registrations were revoked. 

There were only 24 grams of cannabis imported into Canada in the first three months of 2022, and 12,401.13 kilograms were exported. Permits for importation were issued for scientific purposes only. February 2022 saw a record amount of cannabis exported to other legal jurisdictions, 6,389.12 kg in total. 

There were also 0.16 litres of cannabis oil imported and 1,538.41 litres exported.