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.