I personally claim all the weed I buy on my income taxes and have since 2017. In fact, I include every edible, concentrate, and topical as well. On average, I claim about ten grand per year and my returns are over three. Every single purchase I make is for medical use, but not one of them has ever been from a licensed producer- again, I personally only buy my medicine from a gray market compassion club.

Aristotle once said, “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.” I believe the, so here are the details and arguments I made. After all, if THEY did it for me, they should do it for you too.

Eligible Medical Expenses 

According to the CRA, medical cannabis can be deducted from your income taxes. This goes for you, your spouse, or children under the age of 18. If you look up information in the 2019 Medical Expenses Tax Guide, you can find details about eligibility. According to the CRA, you can claim the amounts paid for cannabis, cannabis oil, cannabis plant seeds, or cannabis products purchased for medical purposes from a holder of a license for sale (as defined in subsection 264(1) of the Cannabis Regulations).

A holder of a license is simply defined as someone who holds “a license for sale for medical purposes”. This definition is quite loose, to say the least, and that helps make for a battle well won. While the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club may not have a license from the province of B.C., they have had a few in the past from the City of Victoria, and because of that, I had thought that itself qualified them as a holder of a license for medical cannabis. 

CRA Requirements

In order for medical cannabis to qualifying for a medical exception, the CRA requires that:

– the patient must be a holder of a medical document (as defined in subsection 264(1) of the Cannabis Regulations). 

– The Cannabis Regulations require that the patient be registered as a client of the holder of a license for sale and require the patient to make their purchases from the holder they are registered with.

The facts surrounding my situation

  • I, myself, am a medical patient, but I have never actually filed my ACMPR. I have a doctor’s prescription, but as I haven’t designated a grower or licensed producer, I cannot complete the last section of the paperwork and file it with Health Canada
  • All of my claims are from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club, and I have receipts to prove it. This year, I will be sending in additional receipts from another longstanding, nonprofit dispensary, The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary.
  • If you ask the Provincial Government, VCBC is unlicensed. However, the City of Victoria accepted their rezoning application and granted them multiple business licenses in the past. The organization has been in operation for over 24 years.

Here’s what happened

Weeks after my first refund was sent out, I was audited. A letter arrived asking for me to provide every receipt and any information I had to explain what I had claimed. Even worse, if they were not satisfied with the information I gave them, I would have to pay back a huge portion of my refund. So, I decided to play it safe and send them a little too much information. 

I wrote a letter explaining the details, my health history, and the previous use of opiates. In it, I defended the validity of medical cannabis purchased from a non-licensed supplier. Along with copies of all of my receipts, I included my medical cannabis prescriptions and my recent internal surgery photos. I knew that the surgery photos weren’t necessary, but they asked for the details of my medical use and I wanted the full weight of that to hit hard. If I had bought random weed from an LP instead of my medicine, I would have never been asked to defend the deduction. Fully aware of this and pissed off about it, I did not hold back. 

The following is an excerpt from this authors letter sent to the CRA in 2017:

“For the procedure, my surgeon put me under with ketamine, used local anesthetic and prescribed me cannabis for before, during, and after the said procedure. Despite the fact that the ACMPR program was put on hold until the government had released regulations, my surgeon wrote out a physical prescription so that there would be no issues for me traveling with my medicinal cannabis. 

As of today, I have a valid prescription for 10 grams of cannabis every day and am currently finishing the designated grower paperwork. As current licensed producers do not supply the products necessary for my surgery and as I am unable to make cannabis suppositories myself, I purchased all my medicine from the only available medicinal source, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club. I will continue to do so until licensed producers are able to make and supply cannabis edibles and suppositories.

I am enclosing all of the receipts for my prescribed cannabis medicine in 2017 as well as a copy of my current prescription, the prescription my surgeon wrote for surgery and the procedural before and after photos showing what was removed.”

The response

When I made my argument, I knew that I was in the right. That being said, I didn’t expect the CRA to agree with me. The shock of my life came when the results of the audit cleared everything. I’m not used to seeing a reasonable approach when it comes to cannabis – especially from any level of government. Health Canada may not appear to care about sensible cannabis use, but at least the CRA does.

Equal rights for all medical cannabis users

If you use cannabis to treat your condition, this procedure may be a great option for you to claim cannabis – even if you have been purchasing from an illegal medical dispensary. Best case scenario, they give you the refund without asking you questions. Worst case scenario, they want to fight you on it. But I, myself, have fought the taxman and won. I believe you can too claim cannabis. Here is what you need to do:

  • Put all of your purchase receipts together and total the amount. If you don’t have receipts, remember to check your bank statements. Never had the thought to keep them? Ask your dispensary if they can print you out an annual purchase history record. Not every method or point of sale can do this, granted, but it never hurts to ask.
  • Collect every bit of medical documentation to defend your use of medical cannabis. If your doctor is unwilling to sign a prescription form for liability’s sake and write a letter to explain that. If you feel comfortable, I would recommend sending this proactively.
  • Write the amount on line 33099 or 33199 of your tax return.

Final Thoughts

I can imagine that the CRA would not be impressed with me if they came across this article, but who really knows? It might prompt them to audit me again, and this time approach it from a different angle. And as much as I’d rather avoid that, it wouldn’t be right to stay quiet about something like this, at least in this author’s opinion.

Another member at the VCBC recently tried to claim their purchases on their income taxes, yet was denied. I couldn’t comprehend why my cannabis was being treated as medical, while their’s was not. We both have valid conditions to treat. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I am a white, blonde female, and he has an olive skin tone, and foreign last name. Would they really know that? Regardless of that, it wasn’t fair, or right, and he got a lawyer. His specific situation inspired this article.

If you are using cannabis for a medical condition, you owe it to yourself to look at deducting it from your income taxes. The government is actually happy to pay for prescriptions, so let them pay for your claim cannabis instead.