While recreational legalization isn’t too far off, Canada’s medical cannabis program is still in effect for patients that require access to medicinal marijuana. The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) grants Canadians the right to medical cannabis on the authorization of a healthcare practitioner, providing they have one of the pre-determined symptoms.
With appropriate authorization, patients are permitted to purchase quality-controlled cannabis from any licenced producers. Health Canada grants these licences to businesses that legally sell regulated medical cannabis, while patients also can grow their own cannabis or designate a grower.
Medical marijuana is a fantastic treatment for many people but knowing the ins and outs of the laws in Canada, as well as the best ways to consuming medical cannabis, can be quite difficult to understand.
This guide provides all the relative information for medical cannabis patients in Canada that are unsure of the processes or what steps to take to get their medicine.
Getting Access to Medical Cannabis
The most obvious question many have is how to get access to medical cannabis in Canada. Thankfully, this process isn’t too complex and is much the same as getting treatments for any other medical issues.
Any individual that requires medical cannabis in Canada must first speak with an authorized medical practitioner. The practitioner must currently practice medicine in Canada, which can either be your current doctor an online practitioner.
The latter requires you to contact a nurse or doctor online using the telemedical connection, while the former involves making an appointment with your family doctor. Your current doctor is usually a better choice as they have clear idea of your medical history and will know the suitability of cannabis as a treatment.
That said, speaking via telemedical connections is quick and easy, and the people you talk with are experts in medicinal marijuana so should know whether you meet necessary requirements. They can provide a legal prescription just as a family doctor can, so choose either of these to gain access to medical marijuana.
What Qualifies You for Medical Cannabis
To qualify as a medical marijuana patient in Canada you must suffer from pre-determined symptoms. The cannabis should be prescribed as a relief treatment for one or more of the qualified symptoms only if you have not responded to traditional treatments.
The current symptoms qualify patients for medical cannabis in Canada:
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy treatment
- Severe refractory cancer-associated pain
- Weight loss/loss of appetite due to cancer or HIV/AIDs
- Symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis (e.g. muscle pains and spasms)
- Symptoms due to end of life care/palliative care
- Chronic pain
- Any symptoms authorized by a health care practitioner
Patient criteria for those seeking medical cannabis treatments under the ACMPC is also required, including:
- Currently lives in Canada
- 18 years and above
- Have no prior cannabis-related convictions
- Are not already registered for medical cannabis treatment
Where Do I Get Medical Cannabis After Receiving Authorization?
If you meet all criteria and are shown to have any of the qualified symptoms, then your medical practitioner will provide you with a medical document. This document must contain required information for you to get your cannabis prescription.
Once you have a medical document for cannabis, you can either purchase cannabis from a licenced producer or choose to grow your own cannabis plants. If you can’t grow cannabis yourself then a caregiver can do it on your behalf as a designated grower.
How to Get Medical Cannabis from a Licenced Producer
You are only permitted to purchase medical cannabis from a licenced producer and can only use your medical document to buy cannabis from one source at time, with registration to a single producer required before purchasing.
Registration is quick and easy however, as you simply complete a registration form on the producer’s website, where you submit your signed medical document. Once registered, you are permitted to buy medical marijuana products including:
- Fresh cannabis
- Dried cannabis
- Cannabis oil
- Starting materials for growing
Registering online is also much more convenient for purchasing medicinal marijuana, especially when living outside densely populated areas such as Ontario, Vancouver, and Toronto, as you can get your cannabis delivered to your door.
Medical dispensaries are also found in many towns and cities across Canada. You can register with one of these using your medical document and purchase cannabis from that store.
Can I switch producers?
Yes, it’s completely legal to switch between licenced producers, although you’ll need to get a new medical document as the company isn’t permitted to return medical documents. You also need to cancel your current registration before singing with a new producer.
The process is pretty much the exact same, simply get a new document your medical practitioner (they are only valid for a year anyway so this will be a regular occurrence for long-term patients) and register with the new producer.
How Much Medical Cannabis Can I Purchase and Posses?
Health Canada’s regulations state that a patient is permitted to posses up 30 times their daily amount recommended by the medical practitioner, while a producer can only provide 150 grams (dried cannabis) at a single time.
Every patient receives a recommendation for the daily amount of cannabis to help with their symptoms, so possession restrictions vary from person to person.
For instance, if your doctor recommends 3 grams a day on your medical document, you can posses up to 90 grams per month.
This can be ordered at one time or throughout the course of the month. Those with more than 5 grams per day cannot purchase their monthly limit as it is more than 150 grams, but they simply visit another day until they reach their x 30 monthly limit.
Most online dispensaries show how much you’ve purchase for the month and how close you are to your monthly limit.
How Much Medical Cannabis Should I Consume?
The amount of cannabis to consume varies from each person. Use the recommended daily amount as a guideline for how much cannabis to consume and be sure to speak with your doctor and producer for advice on how the doses to take based in your symptoms.
Edibles, cannabis oils, and vaporizing are the healthiest options for consumption, as smoking cannabis can be damaging to your health, although it is completely legal to do. Always start with a small amount and never take too much at one time, espiecally if unwanted symptoms occur.
Vaporizing and smoking cannabis is the quickest way to feel the effects, while oils and edibles may take an hour or longer to take effect. Never eat too many edibles or oils at the one time and wait at least an hour before the next dose.