November 17, 2016
by CMCC

On November 9th, Health Canada released a report with its most recent data on tobacco, alcohol and drug use. The report compared the incidence of use of these materials in 2015 with a similar study done for 2013.

Of particular interest to CMCC blog readers is the part of the report dealing with cannabis use. Specifically:

• Past-year use of cannabis increased slightly from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2015.

• Among past-year cannabis users, 24% reported using cannabis for medical purposes.

Of note, more than a quarter (28%) of past-year cannabis users reported vaporizing it.

To the unfamiliar, vaporization utilizes a device (vaporizer) that heats cannabis to a temperature high enough to release cannabinoids and terpenes as vapour, but too low to ignite or burn the cannabis, producing smoke. The vapour is then inhaled, providing a discrete method of ingestion resulting in rapid onset of effect. Some vaporizers are designed to be used with dry cannabis material. Others (so-called “vape pen” models) use screw-on cartridges filled with a concentrated cannabis extract oil.

Vaporization may be preferred by those concerned with the potential risks and irritation associated with smoking. Relative to smoking, vaporization is practically odourless, and this change in patterns of use away from smoking represents a significant health-conscious shift byt both patients and recreational users.

However, much like “edibles,” (cannabis infused foods), Health Canada regulations currently prevent Licenced Producers (LPs) from offering patients vape cartridges. Somewhat paradoxically, LPs are authorized to offer cannabis extracts as drops (which are then added to food or beverages to make edibles).

Since it appears use of e-cig style vaporizers is gaining considerable popularity, not having vape cartridges available from their LP necessarily compels some patients to patronize a (technically illegal but commonplace) cannabis dispensary in order to access this safer ingestion option. In such a case, however, the patient would no longer be assured of the quality and purity legally required of products provided by a Licensed Producer under the ACMPR.

CMCC has always supported and championed policies that increase patient access options, be it the regulation and legalization of storefront dispensaries and/or allowing LPs to produce increasingly popular products like vape pens. In light of this report and in the best interest of our patients we’d like to repeat our calls to the government to modify the ACMPR regulations to allow LPs the option of adding vaporizer oil cartridges to their product offerings.