Cannabis is now legal for any Canadian adult, but that doesn’t mean the need for medical cannabis has disappeared.
People who currently use or who are thinking of trying cannabis to treat a condition still benefit from having the option to go the medical route.
From expert knowledge to product supply and savings, this post explains why differentiating between medical and recreational cannabis users is necessary.
If someone is using cannabis to treat a condition but is buying it recreationally, they are more or less guessing what will work. However, there are generally too many factors for self-medicating to be effective.
When a patient talks to a health practitioner about a prescription, he or she will take into account the condition, medical history, the severity of symptoms and history of cannabis use. Based on this information, a doctor or nurse can provide a medical cannabis card that details:
• Type of cannabis — Many people are familiar with the three main types of cannabis strains: sativa, indica and hybrid. However, there are actually at least hundreds of strains. When a nurse makes a recommendation, they look at THC and CBD content and the various terpenes present. Although a sales associate at a retail store may provide general information, they aren’t qualified to match strains to someone’s medical history and symptoms.
• A form of cannabis — Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, ingested or taken in the form of a tincture or topical cream. If a patient is new to cannabis, a nurse can inform them about the best method for their condition.
• Dose — Recreational users can take cannabis whenever they want, but patients benefit to following a dosing schedule. A health practitioner can let someone know how often and how much medication they should be taking.
When a patient tries any new medication, there is often a trial and error period to find the right fit. When you’re a medical cannabis patient, the same is true. If someone is unhappy with their first prescription, a health practitioner can work with them to find the best combination of factors for their next prescription.
Medical cannabis doctors and nurses can also provide more authoritative information to patients who wonder if the drug will work for them. For example, someone who is newly diagnosed with a condition but has never used cannabis may be more comfortable getting advice from a health practitioner rather than a customer service representative. Since a nurse or doctor will know more about a person’s medical condition and history, their advice is more trustworthy.
Specific Medical Cannabis Products Available
There are many different types and forms of cannabis, which is why it can work for a variety of conditions. While recreational users may not be too picky, many patients find that one product is more effective for them than the rest (ex. a specific form of cannabis with a certain THC level). However, that specific product may not be sold by recreational stores in a patient’s area. When someone gets a prescription, they sign up with one licensed producer (LP), who can reliably and consistently ship their medication. LPs are companies approved by Health Canada to grow and sell cannabis.
Canada is having supply problems that are expected to occur on and off over the course of the next few months to the next couple of years. When this happens, recreational users and some patients are unable to access cannabis products. However, some LPs are setting aside inventory for medical cannabis patients only. This allows people with prescriptions to get their medication regardless of shortages.
If you’re using cannabis for a condition, you need your medicine to be accurate and consistent every time, so a medical cannabis card is still the best option. If you’re wondering if a prescription is right for you, you can schedule a free appointment with a nurse practitioner using Namaste MD.
Regulation of medical cannabis also allows patients to save money in the same ways allowed with other prescribed drugs. These include:
• Insurance coverage — This year, Sun Life Financial became the first large insurance provider to cover cannabis. As cannabis becomes more widely accepted and as more studies about its effectiveness are available, more providers are likely to follow suit.
• Coverage for veterans — Vets may have their medical cannabis covered by Veterans Affairs Canada.
• Tax-deductible — The same way prescription medication is deductible, so too is cannabis if you use it to treat a condition. To be eligible, you need a medical cannabis card and receipts from an LP.
• Compassionate pricing — Some LPs offer discounts to cannabis patients who are on government social assistance or who are low-income. As opposed to purchasing recreationally, this helps make medication affordable to those who need it.
To learn about medical marijuana laws in Canada, please read our Ultimate guide to Cannabis Laws: All provinces and territories.