When it comes to medical cannabis, we are living in extraordinary times. Currently, there are over FIFTY licensed producers listed on the Health Canada website that are legally allowed to cultivate in this country. In the next year, that number is predicted to increase by a third.
The question is…with so many LPs, how does a patient choose? Here is what I advise my patients when they are choosing an LP for the first time:
Look for Selection Based on Cannabinoid Content and Terpene Profile
Many cannabis coaches advise choosing a strain based on its classification (Indica, Sativa, Hybrid), but I don’t agree. There is a common misconception that Sativas are supposed to provide a boost and have a more heady effect while Indicas are supposed to bring calm and relaxation, but this isn’t always true. There are a number of Indicas with a high enough THC content to send the mind and heart into overdrive. Likewise, there are Sativa strains sold by LPs which patients complain are not strong enough, particularly for those suffering from anxiety or mental health issues who are not looking for downers.
Choose an LP that consistently stocks strains with a variety of cannabinoid content ratios.By law, LPs are required to place the cannabinoid content of each strain clearly on their Product or Shop page. It is also imperative that the LP employs a friendly, reliable and knowledgeable patient care team that can explain the cannabinoid content and terpene profile of a given strain.
Study your LPs selections carefully, make a list of questions and don’t be shy in asking the LP’s patient care department for advice. A good LP patient care team should be able to provide feedback on what patients report feeling from each strain. They should also be able to tell you about the cultivation process, use of chemical agents as well as specifics on all major terpenes found in the strain.
I also highly recommend that you demand cannabis education from your clinic or prescriber BEFORE you receive your license. If your clinic or prescriber can’t provide education, go somewhere that can. The bottom line is that by the time you are licensed to purchase medical cannabis you should have an idea of how medical cannabis works on the human body, how it may mitigate the symptoms of your specific ailment and also the THC/CBD content you would most likely benefit from.
Remember to always start on the lower end of the THC scale or seek out a strain with a high enough CBD content to counter balance the effects of the THC present in the strain. When it comes to THC, it’s better to work your way up than feel too much of its heady/buzzy efects your first time using medical cannabis.
FYI: One of the most concise and comprehensive explanations of Cannabinoids and Terpenes can be found on the MedReleaf website here
Choose Strains You Can Afford Long Term
Strains vary substantially in price. The cost of strains depends on several factors including type, availability and the LP’s “brand”. Slicker naming and packaging can make an LP more expensive, and oils, though they require a smaller dosage and tend to last longer, are far more expensive than dried cannabis across the board. If you’re on a budget, shop around. Remember, this is a medicine which you will be purchasing long-term so plan accordingly.
If you are accessing financial assistance, check out the following reputable Licensed Producers who still offer competitive compassionate pricing programs (Confirmed as of Sept.7, 2017):
ABcann Medicals: http://www.abcann.ca/faq.php#collapseTen
15% discount for low income households and patients on provincial or gov’t assistance
Aurora Cannabis: https://auroramj.com/faq/categories/products-and-pricing.html
All strains at $6/gram for low income households and patients on provincial or gov’t assistance
30% off if you make under 30k/year
MedReleaf: 25% off all product if on any government assistance program
25% discount for all qualifying patients
20% off all product at Tweed if under 29K
Competitive Shipping (Price and Speed)
Shipping fees should be affordable and there should always be a free shipping option above the purchase of a certain number of grams.
Shipping should not take longer than 5-7 business days, the maximum that anyone should have to wait for their medicine. But nowadays, with so much competition, many LPs are offering express shipping at minimal cost. Ask the customer service department before placing your order how long it will take to arrive and hold them to it. Also, please take into account civic holidays and order in advance if you see that your LP will be closed on a given holiday. The best way to keep abreast of this information is to follow your LP on social media. This is also an excellent way to keep informed of special promos (including shipping rates) that LPs periodically offer.
And just ensure you are never without medical cannabis, please….
Split Your Script
The option to split your prescription between 2 LPs is always an option. Why wouldn’t you try a variety of strains and be able to compare their effects? This also ensures that you won’t run out of medical cannabis in case an LP is late with shipping or out of stock.
Do Your Homework
There are many quality, up to date resources online that touch on every aspect of medical cannabis and the current landscape in Canada. As this is a new industry that is constantly changing, it’s best to go where actual medical cannabis users are describing their LP and strain experiences in REAL TIME. Facebook has provided one of the most up-to-date outlets in this arena. Here are my top 5 favourite nooks and crannies online to find credible medical cannabis information (please note that many of these are Facebook Groups which you will have to request to join and accept their terms and conditions):
1. SheCann: Legal Medical Cannabis Empowering Women (men are welcome to join)
This group has a dedicated community of medical cannabis users for a variety of different conditions who provide honest support and feedback on health conditions, medical cannabis strains and Licensed Producers.
2. Pedriatic Cannabis Canada
Provides much needed support and information for parents whose children use medical cannabis for a variety of medical conditions.
3. Medical Cannabis Canada Worldwide
LP news and strain reviews as well as the latest articles on all things cannabis related.
A great place to see what the public is saying about LPs and Strains. It is filled with information by medical cannabis insiders as well as strain reviews: https://lift.co/reviews
I know Pubmed is purely scientific and medical and not written in the easiest English, but this database remains an excellent source of legitimate research-based studies that are invaluable in understanding the effects of medical cannabis on an A-Z of medical conditions. Though some articles are published only as extracts or abstracts, there are several studies that you can find in their entirety for free: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cannabis
If you suffer a medical condition that you feel can be helped with medical cannabis and are seeking licensing or cannabis education, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on my website, www.scratchrecovery.com