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Cannabis in Canadian Jails: Canadian Inmate Access To Organic Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Exist

Medical cannabis has been legal for a while now, but what about in the slammer? We wanted to learn a little bit more about if, and how inmates with medical cannabis prescriptions gain access to their product.

Stephanie, the Correction Service of Canada’s Communication Manager was kind enough to take our team through the policies that medical patients behind bars are currently dealing with.

Medical access to organic cannabis flower, edibles, extracts, topicals or cannabinoids in any form in Canadian jails has been given a no-go by the Correction Service of Canada. In exchange for real cannabinoids, patients are given access to Nabilone, which is a synthetic form of cannabis used currently for various medical treatments.

Here’s what the Correction Service of Canada had to tell us about access to medical cannabis in the Canadian correctional system:

Consistent with the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC) process for managing prescription medications brought to the institution from the community, inmates are not authorized to retain medicinal marijuana upon entry. All quantities of medicinal marijuana in the inmate’s possession will be sent by security to the institutional healthcare centre for disposal. If an inmate arrives at CSC with a prescription for or quantities of medicinal marijuana, alternative treatment options are provided to treat the inmate’s related health condition (e.g. pain).

Nabilone (brand name Cesamet) is a synthetic oral form of cannabis and is available as a prescription medication in Canada with an associated Drug Identification Number (DIN). It is listed on the CSC National Formulary for inmates with nausea associated with cancer treatment. The medication may also be requested to treat other conditions, as a substitution for medicinal marijuana via the CSC non-formulary review process. 

Medicinal marijuana is not provided to inmates or permitted within CSC facilities. When a new inmate on medicinal marijuana is admitted to CSC, the institutional healthcare staff and treating physician work with the inmate to substitute an alternative treatment option. Inmates within CSC facilities are not permitted to receive medicinal marijuana prescribed by an external physician and therefore would not be permitted to refill their prescription from within CSC. There are no inmates receiving medicinal marijuana within CSC facilities.

The only information on testing of synthetic cannabis on CSC’s website is a research publication and it is not specific to CSC inmates: www.csc-scc.gc.ca/research/forum/e142/e142g-eng.shtml.

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