As the legalization of cannabis in Canada nears its one year anniversary there is still a fair bit of confusion surrounding the legalities of medical cannabis versus recreations and who can prescribe cannabis in Canada. Medical cannabis has been available in Canada for almost 20 years yet many Canadians are still unsure where to go to get legal medical cannabis. Let’s explore the situation concerning medical cannabis in Canada.
Uses for Medical Cannabis in Canada
Since recreational cannabis has become legal you no longer need a prescription to access cannabis however if you want to use it for medical purposes then you are better off with getting a prescription. Medical cannabis is used across Canada to treat a variety of conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cancer, insomnia and PTSD. Provincial health departments which oversee medical cannabis do not put a restriction on having a qualifying condition in order to get medical cannabis you need to discuss your options with your doctor.
That being said despite cannabis proponents touting the numerous benefits of medical marijuana it is not for everyone. There are patients who should not use medical cannabis. Patients who suffer from respiratory conditions or a history of psychosis will not likely convince a doctor to prescribe medical cannabis. Pregnant or nursing mothers and minors are also not going to get medical cannabis either.
Getting a Prescription
All you need to get medical cannabis in Canada is a prescription from a licensed and practicing physician. You don’t need to go to a specialist or get any kind of special approval or licensing. However that is not necessarily as easy as it sounds. For years cannabis has carried a lot of stigma surrounding it and even today there are still many medical professionals who don’t believe in the value of medical cannabis and won’t prescribe it.
So what do you do if your family physician refuses to prescribe medical cannabis for you? If you are using cannabis to treat pain then you should ask for a referral to a pain clinic or another specialist who may be more amenable. The same holds for your specialist, if your oncologist won’t prescribe it then you may want to talk to your family physician. You may also want to look for a medical cannabis clinic in your area.
Dealing with a Cannabis Clinic
Despite being very pro marijuana a cannabis clinic still won’t prescribe medical cannabis to just anyone walking in off the street. You are still going to have to demonstrate a medical need in order to get a prescription. That means you are going to want to bring your pertinent medical records with you, that can include referrals, current prescriptions, results from medical tests like x-rays or an MRI and so forth.
If you don’t live near a clinic there are some clinics that do offer remote or virtual consultations but that will largely depend on the province that you are in. What is available in Ontario may not be available to patients in Nova Scotia. You will have to check what is available in your province.
Medical Cannabis and Getting Stoned
Two common questions a potential cannabis patient may ask are “do I have to smoke?” and “will I get stoned?” The answer to that is no, you don’t necessarily have to do either. Research into the value and uses of medical cannabis is still fairly new and there is a lot left to learn. What we do know is that THC and CBD are the two components in cannabis that bring most of the benefits.
THC is the ingredient that is responsible for the high feeling it can also be the ingredient that is responsible for anxiety and paranoia sometimes associated with marijuana use. CBD on the other hand is what helps treat anxiety and it doesn’t provide any kind of high. Medical patients with a prescription are able to access cannabis of varying strengths whether they want very little THC or need higher amounts to treat their condition. You should also note that smoking isn’t a requirement you can use a vapourizer or use cannabis edibles instead of smoking cannabis.
Getting Your Prescription Filled
Before legalization of recreational marijuana you had to go get a license once you had a prescription and then bring this license to a dispensary to get your prescription filled. Today you can take your prescription to Shopper’s Drug Mart and get it filled right there, they are probably the biggest licensed dispensary in the country with stores all over the country. You can get your prescription delivered by your local pharmacy right to your door.
Will it be Covered by Insurance
In some cases insurance companies have included cannabis as part of the schedule of drugs that they will cover. However most people should be prepared to pay out of pocket for the cost of their prescription.