The Evolution of the Regulated Medical Marijuana Market in Canada

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Speaker: Paul Grootendorst

Date: Friday, October 14th at 10 AM – 12 PM

Location: Health Sciences Building (155 College Street, Toronto ON), Room HS 100


Canada has, since 2001, permitted the medical use of cannabis.  Prior to 2014, under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), Health Canada approved patients, provided the patient’s physician was supportive. Patients could grow their own cannabis plants or purchase dried cannabis from Health Canada. After 2014, under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), physicians could independently authorize cannabis use. Patients were required to purchase cannabis from Licensed Producers (LPs), commercial growers approved and regulated by Health Canada. In this study, we describe trends over the period 2001 to 2016 in: 1) patient and physician participation in the MMAR and MMPR; 2) the number of plants that patients were authorized to grow under the MMAR; 3) the number of LPs selling dried cannabis and cannabis oil; and 4) the distribution of prices.  We also describe current LP product offerings (strain, THC and CBD concentrations and prices). We find that Physician participation has declined under the new MMPR program but those physicians who do participate tend to prescribe to a large number of patients.  The LP market shows signs of robust growth, spurred no doubt by the impending legalization of cannabis.



Paul Grootendorst is an Associate professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy, and the School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto.  He is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Economics, McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada and an associate editor of Health Economics.  His research interests are on the economic aspects of the pharmaceutical industry, including drug development; pharmaceuticals use, insurance and reimbursement; and interactions between innovative (brand) and generic drug firms.  He also has an interest in program evaluation using observational data.