One of the best parts of feeling empowered about your own health and wellness is the confidence that comes with feeling able to speak to your health care provider about your questions and concerns. This comes with knowing that your healthcare team will take the time and effort to answer your questions thoughtfully, truthfully, and in a way that empowers you to take control of your own health and wellness journey.
While medical and recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, it used to be considered illicit and wrong. This stigma kept researchers from investigating its true potential, and kept patients in the dark about the impacts it could have on their own wellbeing.
At NatCan, we want you to feel comfortable speaking to us about the potentials of medical cannabis. We can promise a non-judgmental environment where your health and wellness is at the centre of all we do. To help those of you who might be interested in learning more, we’ve put together the following information on how to access medical cannabis.
How to register with a licensed provider of medical cannabis.
As a medical patient, you can bypass the line at retail cannabis stores and order directly from the Canadian licensed producer (LP) of your choosing. All you need to do is register with an LP and provide a signed Medical Document from a medical practitioner. The Medical Document is equivalent to a prescription in that it allows you to obtain medical cannabis products, and may allow your employer’s prescription drug coverage to cover a portion of the cost.
You can execute these two steps in any order, before purchasing the medical cannabis products you need.
Register with a licensed producer (LP)
The easiest method to register with a licensed producer is to go online. Each LP has its own products and its own process. Find out where their medical patient sign-up form is and get started with the usual details to become an applicant – name, address and shipping address. Next, obtain that Medical Document form to get signed.
Obtain a signed Medical Document
The process to complete a registration for medical cannabis includes, of course, a discussion with your medical practitioner. At NatCan, we provide comprehensive, patient-centric care, and are passionate about providing an environment that fosters health and wellness. What are your medical symptoms and how might medical cannabis provide solutions or relief? Currently, only medical doctors and some nurse practitioners can write Medical Documents, but luckily, some naturopathic clinics like ours have referral programs in place that will help our patients easily access physicians who can help with this step.
So, arrange an appointment with a medical provider, which might be your GP or nurse practitioner. At NatCan, we can help too.
I asked Dr. Zeid Mohamedali, a well-known clinician and expert in medical cannabis pain management, as well as a Chief Medical Officer at a Canadian licensed producer, how that discussion occurs with a patient.
“Medical Cannabis has growing evidence that places it into the treatment algorithm for many disease processes. When a patient comes to me for assessment, I start with a comprehensive medical history. Often a person may not realize that the cause of one condition is dependent on other medical conditions. I am looking to get a more complete picture, which also includes how they have responded to traditional medications. I will then discuss the safety, efficacy, and side-effects of cannabis. Finally, I will recommend which variety and how to take the cannabis.”
“Then I am able to sign the Medical Document for cannabis products, which either I or the patient can then send to the licensed producer, to be registered as a medical cannabis patient,” continued Mohamedali. “This medical document is equivalent to a prescription that you would normally pass to your pharmacist. I’m always excited to see the individual in a follow-up, because they are often overwhelmed by the positive response to their new medicine.”
Stage three: the Licensed Producer processes your application
Once you have your signed Medical Document, send your Medical Document through to the LP. This can be done by post, fax, or e-mail. The patient or the signing practitioner can submit the document to the LP.
I asked Alice Shin, the Customer Service Manager at Zenabis, a Licensed Producer of medical cannabis, what might happen next inside the company to verify the details:
“The Cannabis Regulations stipulate that the Licensed Producer must verify that the patient has consulted with a licensed Health Care Practitioner, and that the information set out in the Medical Document is correct and complete. Once done, which takes 2-3 days, we will notify by email the status of the application. Once confirmed with the patient that their account is set up, they can proceed to purchase medical cannabis products from our online shop. Those orders are fulfilled in our licensed facility and delivered straight to the patient’s door.”
If you fall into one of these categories, you should also check with your LP of choice to see if they have any compassionate pricing program: seniors, low-income, and veterans included.
Stage four: obtaining your medical cannabis products
Once you are a confirmed medical cannabis patient, you can order through the LP online shop. You can order up to your prescription limit, and your LP will do the checks so you are getting the order that falls within the prescription from the medical practitioner.
Most medical cannabis providers have several medical cannabis products from which to choose, based on your medical needs. This includes different levels of THC or CBD, as well as different cultivars / strains which provide various terpenes or taste experiences.
As with any other health and wellness process, always take note of the cannabis industry mantra: start low and go slow.
The NatCan Team