Medical cannabis has had a rocky ride, only fairly recently emerging from the very fringe of legal and social acceptance. Nowadays, the news is out, the legislation has been passed, and Canadians now enjoy the legal right to use cannabis as a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals. The process of acquiring medical cannabis is straightforward, but may still seem intimidating to new consumers. This is your guide to getting the ganja.
TALK TO THE DOC
The first step is establishing whether and how cannabis can help you. The medical community has identified at least thirty medical conditions which may benefit from cannabis consumption, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders and depression to HIV/AIDS and PTSD. If you believe that you have symptoms which may be remedied with cannabis, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor.
As a new consumer, you may feel uncomfortable broaching the subject with your doctor. That’s alright. Despite significant social and legal progress, some people still sense a stigma attached to cannabis. This is even true with some doctors, who—due to a lack of knowledge regarding the medicine—may be reluctant to prescribe it. However, if you believe that cannabis is the right medicine for you, it is crucial that you take every opportunity to establish your treatment.
If you feel you may be too uncomfortable to raise the topic yourself, bring a friend or family member with you for moral support. Speak to your doctor candidly. Tell them about your symptoms. Explain which other treatment(s) you have tried, and the manner in which those treatments failed to meet your expectations. If you have consumed cannabis before, tell your doctor about it, and explain the beneficial effects firsthand. Finally, tell them how you plan to consume cannabis. In the end, your doctor should be looking out for your health, and no one is a better judge of your own well-being than you are. Speak as the authority of your own health!
CHOOSE YOUR STYLE
Under the 2016 Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, Canadians can legally acquire cannabis in one of three ways. You can:
- Grow a limited amount of cannabis for medical purposes
- Designate someone to grow cannabis for you
- Buy cannabis from a licensed producer
Growing cannabis can be a rewarding hobby, however it can also be expensive and time-consuming. Most Canadians who grow their own cannabis do so indoors in order to contend with long and dark Canadian winters. Growing healthy plants indoors typically requires costly equipment, such as UV lights and hydroponic gardens. Needless to say, growing your own cannabis also takes time—if starting with a seedling, it would take 2 months at the very minimum to have consumption-worthy cannabis. For patients suffering from chronic pain or nausea, 2 months is simply too long to wait for relief. If you are interested in growing your own cannabis for medical purposes, you will need to fill out these forms.
By far the most popular method of acquiring medical cannabis is through licensed producers or distributors. Through this method, you leave the work to the professionals, meaning that you get your medication faster, and—having been produced by experienced professionals—it will likely be more effective. Many of these vendors operate online, and ship product directly to consumers’ homes. There are producers and distributors located throughout Canada, and consumers are not limited to vendors within their own province. Producers and distributors often ship nationwide.
CHOOSING YOUR MEDICAL CANNABIS SUPPLIER
With loads of dispensaries operating across Canada, it’s worth doing some shopping around to decide if you’ve found the right supplier for your medical needs. The obvious place to start is with the product itself.
Consider how you intend to consume cannabis (smoking, vaporizing, edibles, etc). Does the dispensary provide products that you can use in your treatment? It is also worth turning a critical eye to the strains offered. Different strains are used to elicit different effects—for example, CBD-rich strains are particularly helpful with anxiety. Ensure that a dispensary has products that you can employ in your treatment.
PRESCRIPTIONS AND MEMBERSHIPS
If your doctor has prescribed cannabis to treat your symptoms, you will receive a Medical Marijuana Identification Card along with your first order from a licensed producer. It is important to note that until full legalization, which is expected in July 2018, this Medical Marijuana Identification Card is your only Get Out of Jail Free card.
Compassionate dispensaries offer membership cards to their customers in order to facilitate future transactions—to Canadian police, these are not 100% legal on their own. Be aware that carrying a dispensary membership card may not make you entirely impervious to criminal charges in this current transitionary period.
SEE ALSO: The What & How of Medical Marijuana >>
Acquiring the medicine that you need and beginning the treatment that you believe is right for you is incredibly satisfying. Despite some lingering stigmas associated with historical misconceptions, acquiring medical cannabis is easier than many people think. If you think that cannabis is right for you, talk to your doctor, or research suppliers. Take the first step toward a better life.