Becoming a Legal Medical Cannabis Patient in Canada

Even though recreational cannabis will legally become available in Canada on October 17, the medical cannabis community within Canada remains strong and growing since its legal start in 2001.

As of March 2018 in Canada, there are 296,792 registrations under Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which has experienced a growth of over 120,000 since this time last year.

In the age of cannabis legalization, cannabis doctors, and Health Canada’s Licensed Producers (LPs) are poised to continue to grow and promote medical cannabis while discovering new medical and clinical applications for the plant. Strainprint will continue to be along for the journey of hundreds of thousands of cannabis patients nationwide.

Why Become a Medical Patient Before Recreational Legalization?

If you’re interested in using medical cannabis and are considering just waiting to try it once it’s fully legal and can be picked up in a store, you may be risking the route of self-medicating and falling short on the promises of medical cannabis.

Choosing to use cannabis under the supervision of a doctor will help you target your symptoms, and choose strains and methods of consumption that make a change to your medical diagnoses and their symptoms.

Accessing cannabis from a Health Canada Licenced Producer will ensure that you’re getting specific strains and products developed with medical cannabis treatment in mind. The vast array of LPs in Canada offer so many options, and there are dedicated online communities to help people navigate LPs.

Strainprint app users are able to share their experiences with the LPs and their products through the app.

How to Become a Medical Cannabis Patient

There are several ways that you can become a medical cannabis patient in the days before legalization and after. There’s no one-size fits all approach.

Here is a brief overview of the avenues you can take to access medical cannabis legally in Canada.

1) Talk to your doctor or Nurse Practitioner (in Ontario): Start the conversation about medical cannabis with your general practitioner. Discuss your reasons for interest, and what their procedures are for prescribing or recommending medical cannabis. Be aware that not all doctors are equipped to (or willing to) prescribe medical cannabis.

If your doctor is not interested in prescribing cannabis, you may opt for a cannabis-friendly clinic, which offer in-person or telemedicine appointments with educated, legal doctors who are equipped to help people retrieve their medical cannabis registration. If you use a clinic, your doctor may refer you or you may be asked to submit documentation supporting your diagnosis, and/or be assessed by the clinic’s health care team.

You can do this by requesting a copy of your medical records or having the clinic fax your doctors office on your behalf.

Some clinics have health care providers that can now diagnose anxiety and depression and other conditions without any documentation from your physician.

2. Once a doctor or Nurse Practitioner (NP) writes the prescription, it is time to choose a legal Licensed Producer (LP). We recommend choosing more than one based on your needs.

Your cannabis prescription will state a limit per day that you are allowed within your prescription. For instance, Jon Smith may be limited to consuming 1 gram per day. Some also have THC limits, depending on the doctor’s assessment. Some may also have other caveats such as using only oils.  

3. Once you’ve chosen your LP (or LPs), notify your doctor of your choices and your doctor will send the prescription to the LP(s).

4. You register on the websites on the LPs that you plan to access.

5. The LPs will contact you when they have received your prescription either via email or phone call, and let you know you can place your first order! The staff at the LP and the clinics can give you guidance on what to use and limited dosing information.

6. You place your first order online or via phone! It is mailed to you, usually via Canada post or Purolator. Note: the ONLY way to access legal medical cannabis currently in Canada is through the mail.

Track Your Use with Strainprint

Strainprint is equipped with data on the products, strains, and methods of consumption offered by Canada’s LPs. Users can track their symptoms and cannabis sessions, and report the effects of their sessions as they “use cannabis better” with Strainprint. With the explore feature, users can discover the journeys of other users and talk to their cannabis doctors about the approaches they would like to try or may be right for them.

App users can also choose to authorize their physician to have access to their journaling/tracking report to help track progress and achieve optimal efficacy.

The medical cannabis community is thriving, and we will rely on the efforts of medical patients, cannabis doctors, and LPs to collect data to help us understand and cannabis to its highest potential in the medical context.

Strainprint Patient Profile: Strainprint User Equates App to a Personal Companion for Cannabis Use

The best part about Strainprint is the fact that we get to support patients on their medical cannabis journey, help them live symptom-free and meaningful lives. This is a cause we are passionate about and we love hearing the profound stories from our app users.

Out of that passion, comes our patient profile focused blog series which will profile our app users’ medical cannabis journeys, how medical cannabis is improving their lives, and how those that are facing similar challenges can share in and learn from others.

Featured this month in our patient profile series, we have A.J, a Strainprint user that credits the app in helping along her medical cannabis journey. 

“When I found the app after scrolling through the app store I quickly realized it was like a matchmaker app for cannabis,” says A.J., a mother from Alberta.  Now, “the app is my own personal companion,” says A.J.

Like many, A.J. had experimented with cannabis on a recreational basis during high school and in her post-secondary education. “I never realized it was helping with my A.D.D,” she says, “Back then, marijuana was really looked down upon.”

Now, times are different, and A.J. has included medical cannabis and the use of the Strainprint app, into her daily lifestyle and routines.

After suffering injuries from a car accident that left her car totaled, A.J. struggled with constant  back and neck pain. Having taken every route to recovery, including pharmaceuticals, visits to chiropractors, and regular exercise, A.J. couldn’t find relief.

“It wasn’t until giving birth to my daughter that I knew my back was a huge factor in a lot of my daily struggles,” says A.J., “I knew I needed to do something other than what I had already tried.”

A.J. obtained her medical cannabis registration to help deal with her pain but found the beginning of the process very challenging. “As a new patient to medical cannabis there was so much overwhelming information,” she says, “Lots of people had recommendations for Licensed Producers and strains, and it was highly overwhelming.”

When she found Strainprint, she saw that the ability to track everything about her use was a huge help. She found the app helpful in being able to target specific symptoms, see others’ experiences of medical cannabis’ effects, and know where to find certain products from Licensed Producers.

A.J. loves that the use of the Strainprint app earns her points that she can cash in for incentives. The dry herb vaporizer she earned with Strainprint points has become a part of her everyday routine. “I enjoy microdosing, and also using my dry herb vaporizer before sleep,” explains  A.J. She prefers using strains that are high in CBD, which she describes as effective for times when she struggles with migraines or menstrual cramps.

What advice does A.J. have for cannabis users and Strainprint users? Take advantage of the tracking feature. “The records help you know what’s working or isn’t working. You can explore. You would be amazed at everything you can learn just by using the app.”

A.J is just one of thousands of medical cannabis users who rely on Strainprint to use cannabis better.

Can Cannabis Help You Lose Weight?

While it’s been long rumoured that cannabis use leads to “the munchies” and subsequent weight gain, weed and weight loss may have a surprising and promising partnership.

An age-old assumption that is held about cannabis users is that they often succumb to “the munchies” and end up making poor food choices, risking gaining weight as a consequence.

Using cannabis doesn’t need to be a pathway to embracing the munchies; in fact, more are turning their attention to the ways that weed and weight loss may go hand in hand.

Preliminary Studies
Cannabis needs to experience a disassociation from the image of the stoner eating Pringles on the couch while playing video games. A 2011 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that, “people using cannabis are less likely to be obese than people who do not use cannabis.” This is supported by studies showing that cannabis users have trimmer waistlines and lower-cholesterol.

A 2015 study examined the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) on maintaining a healthy weight in mice. The study found that THC causes changes in the gut microbiome (a microorganism connected to weight) that are assumed to contribute to healthy weight. Overall, it showed that the THC treatment, over a period of 4 weeks, reduced weight gain, fat gain, and energy intake in obese mice.

Cannabis & Exercise

More in the cannabis community are showing the benefits of connecting cannabis to the exercise routine, promoting the way that weed leads to weight loss. Some athletes microdose pre-workout to bring a state of relaxation and focus to their training routine (without getting high!). Cannabis topicals can help with muscle recovery and reduce inflammation and can protect sore muscles or joints during the workout process. Further cannabis dosing helps reduce the inflammation and associated pain with sports injuries or soreness.

Taking this approach requires the cannabis user to see cannabis as an enabler, and to thoughtfully choose strains that will boost energy and bring focus. People will usually choose a sativa strain like Durban Poison or Harlequin before a workout while relying on an indica-dominant strain for more low-impact activities like yoga.

Appetite Suppressing Strains

Munchies are a real thing, but there are actually strains, cannabinoids, and terpene profiles that help reduce appetite, rather than make you hungry and grab for anything in the fridge.

Some examples of what to look for in appetite suppression include:

• Strains that contain THC-V (tetrahydrocannabivarin) deliver an energetic and euphoric high along with appetite-suppressing qualities. One high THC-V strain some users can access is Black Beauty. A more common route to strains that suppress appetite are those rich in the terpene humulene that has a similar effect to THC-V with appetite. Strains high in humulene include Sour OG, Sour Diesel, Girl Scout Cookies, and Skywalker OG.

• Strains that combine high levels of THC-V and humulene, like Green Crack, will pack an energetic punch while preventing you from reaching for the fridge;

• Cannatonic is a helpful appetite suppressant because it gives the user an upbeat feeling with its high CBD content and low THC content. Those who want a bit of a pep in their step in a social situation but don’t want to opt for a sugary alcoholic drink may find Cannatonic will produce the same relaxing effect of having a few drinks;

Either Humulene and THC-V (or both) are what to look for in appetite suppressing strains. Using THC-V for the first time can be an eye-opening experience for the most seasoned cannabis user due to its potency and feelings of euphoria. Use these strains within a safe environment and mindfully dose to assess the effects.

Change the Conversation

The modern cannabis consumer has an opportunity to change the stigma associated with cannabis; it’s not something that makes you lazy, but rather, when used intentionally, it can help in goals achievement. While the studies on weed and weight loss are preliminary, the dialogue around the potential for cannabis and weight management is certainly growing.