What to Expect When Getting Medicinal Cannabis
Many people do not know the process for obtaining medicinal cannabis. A medicinal cannabis authorization involves more steps and education than compared to other drug prescriptions. In addition, the service levels of many clinics vary and some also charge patients fees that can be quite costly.
Clearing the Misconceptions about Medicinal Cannabis
So, let’s start by clearing up some of the misconceptions.
Misconception 1: All cannabis will get me “high”
The goal of medical cannabis is symptom relief with minimal psychoactive “getting high” effects. The two main components of cannabis are Cannabidiol (CBD), which is the cannabiniod (part of cannabis) that does not cause “the high”, and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the cannabinoid that has the psychoactive effects: “the high.” Many patients that are prescribed a high CBD strain with minimal THC are typically surprised that they do not get high and still get symptom relief.
Misconception 2: I can just get it from a friend or dispensary.
Licenced producers are approved under Health Canada to legally sell medical cannabis. This means that products have been lab tested, researched and developed for the symptomatic treatment of various conditions. Illegal sources that supply cannabis do not have to meet the same quality standard and do not have to show the amounts of CBD or THC present in their strains. This makes it challenging to find the right strain for the medical condition or need.
Misconception 3: I have to pay fees to get my prescription or educational support.
You do not have to pay any fees to get quality service including thorough education on medical cannabis. Look for clinics that do not charge and ask about costs ahead of time.
“The goal of medicinal cannabis is symptom relief with minimal psychoactive “getting high” effects”
How to Navigate the Process of Obtaining Medicinal Cannabis
Step 1: The first step for many patients in their journey to obtaining medicinal cannabis is visiting with a Health Care Practitioner (HCP). This step is similar to a Doctor’s visit, except this would be for the purpose of medicinal cannabis authorization.
Step 2: Before the visit with the HCP, patients will most likely need to fill out forms outlining their medical history as well as their condition or medical need for medicinal cannabis.
Step 3: Depending on the HCP’s assessment, a patient may receive a Medical Document which is similar to a prescription.
Step 4: Education is provided which can include general information about medical cannabis and information on the strains available based on the prescription and patient’s condition. Educators can also help provide guidance on programs such as compassionate pricing for those that qualify.
Step 5: A patient then will register with a licensed producer(s), where they will purchase their prescription (their medicinal cannabis). Once purchased, the medical cannabis is delivered to the patient’s home address.
Table 1: Reason for Using Medical Cannabis
Terra Health Network: Is a network of Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Patient Educators that help patients navigate medical cannabis. We have physical clinic locations and also offer telemedicine consultation services where patients can see a Health Care Practitioner from the convenience of their home. Our educators assist patients with education on the use of medical cannabis. There are no fees for patients for all of our services.
HelloMD. (2016). Medical Marijuana Patient Survey Results.