Hi everyone and welcome to our 15th episode of Medical Cannabis Now! Today, we wanted to cover common myths and misconceptions around cannabis, especially medical. As cannabis was considered illegal for so many years, not only did it hinder research, but facts around the plant were generally restricted to word of mouth, which led to a lot of misinformation about medicine. Since there was little to no substantial research, physicians and other health professionals also had no training on the topic, which is something we are still working to combat today by educating patients, physicians, and health professionals across Canada on a daily basis.
What are the top myths surrounding cannabis?
Myth #1: Cannabis is legal so I can consume it anywhere in public.
When in public, cannabis users, even medicinal, must abide by the by-laws in your area. We encourage you to please refer to your province or city’s bylaws on consuming cannabis in public. When using medical cannabis on private property or shared space, please check with the regulations surrounding the use of cannabis that has been authorized by a healthcare practitioner. Some facilities may require proof such as the labels that come with your medical cannabis.
Myth #2: You have to get high or be impaired to use medical cannabis.
Not at all. Feeling the euphoria, “high” or impaired, are not indications of therapeutic relief. Many of our patients are able to find their therapeutic dose without feeling impaired and we work with you to ensure that you never feel out of your comfort zone. And we do so by starting low and going slow.
Myth #3: All cannabis is safe now as it’s legalized and regulated.
Well, that is not necessarily the case. It is highly dependent on where you obtain your cannabis. Medical cannabis from a Health Canada-approved licensed producer (LP) undergoes rigorous testing for pesticides and other harmful chemicals. You can visit your LP’s website to read more about this process. Unfortunately, there is still a wide variety of illicit market cannabis being sold online that no one knows exactly where it is coming from or how it is being grown. You always want to make sure your medicine is grown in clean facilities, and treated like any pharmaceutical medication, which will always be the case when you obtain your cannabis through a Health Canada-approved licensed producer.
Myth #4: I need to have my family physician refer me to get a medical cannabis prescription.
No you do not require a referral to be seen at Apollo. While we recommend that you speak with your family physician first, you do not need a referral to consult with Apollo Cannabis Clinics for a cannabis prescription. We understand that many patients are unable to connect with a family doctor. Some doctors do not feel comfortable prescribing cannabis and they may not have enough education around the products, titration, and they don’t have additional support available like you would from Apollo. If your family doctor does refer you, however, they will receive a consult note from your appointment.
Myth #5: When you have a medical cannabis prescription, you get a “card” as proof.
You no longer need a “card” as proof. When you fill your cannabis prescription through your registered licensed producer, you may receive labels that accompany the product, registration paperwork, or your invoice. That is now your proof that you are prescribed medical cannabis. In addition, you can also ask your Licensed Producer for a copy of your Registration Document.
Myth #6: Cannabis is legal now in some states in America, so I can fly there with my own medical cannabis.
Unfortunately, you cannot cross any international borders with your medical cannabis.
Myth #7: I can get my medical cannabis at a walk-in dispensary.
Dispensaries or registered cannabis outposts cannot prescribe or provide any medical advice. If a location can sell or provide cannabis on-site, then they are not a medical cannabis clinic and cannot provide or accept prescriptions. Medical cannabis comes from a Health Canada-approved Licensed Producer and is delivered straight to the patient’s residence discreetly by mail.
Myth #8: A certain strain or product worked for my friend, so it will also work for me.
We encourage our patients to talk about medical cannabis with others when they feel comfortable. It is a great way to gain more insight and perspective for your own medical cannabis treatment. However, everyone responds differently to different types of medical cannabis. A certain strain may work for your friend, but may not work the same for you.
Myth #9: International Border Patrol has a list of medical cannabis patients.
When receiving a prescription for medical cannabis, your health information is protected by PHIPA or the Personal Health Information Protection Act. Your name or information will not be placed on any list that is made available to border patrol. There is no active list being kept to screen for medical cannabis patients.
Myth #10: Using cannabis will make me lazy.
That is unlikely to be true for most. The effects are strain and/or dose dependent. If a patient experiences side effects such as decreased motivation or fatigue, our patient care specialist team can help find an alternative strain solution to make sure that your medication is tailored to your needs. For example, we see patients for conditions such as chronic fatigue, depression, and ADHD, in which medical cannabis works to have the opposite effect and give these patients improved quality of life.
Myth #11: I’m going to have the munchies when I use cannabis
This is a possible side effect of medical cannabis, especially when using higher amounts of THC and it’s also dependent on the strain’s effects on the specific individual.
Myth #12: Edibles are really strong and powerful
Consuming medical cannabis as an edible – as opposed to softgel, or dried flower – could possibly have unpredictable effects. However, edibles available through legal producers come in a variety of mgs of cannabinoids per unit, with a maximum of 10mg per package, allowing patients to start low and go slow. As a reference, many edibles made at home or on the illicit market contain more than 50mg per item which may cause unwanted effects.
Myth #13: Using cannabis will cause me to have anxiety
This typically depends on the strain, THC strength, and cannabinoid type. Overall, the majority find that medical cannabis improves their anxiety and it is often used as a form of treatment, with many using CBD only. However, for the few, certain types of strains can worsen anxiety, especially those with higher THC. We advise all of our patients to inform us if this is a problem and our patient care team will assist in finding an alternative. Staying within your dosing plan provided by your Apollo educator and physician is the best way to prevent any unwanted side-effects when taking your medication.
Myth #14: Medical cannabis causes schizophrenia.
There is no evidence to show that medical cannabis causes schizophrenia. However, some evidence shows that there may be an association mostly due to THC-predominant cannabis. It may be a factor amongst many other factors that are associated with schizophrenia. For example, a 50-year old patient with no history or family history of a psychiatric disorder, and is just starting to use medical cannabis, is highly and extremely unlikely to develop psychosis or schizophrenia from medical cannabis use. But if a 13-year-old with a strong family history of schizophrenia and personal history of severe anxiety is using daily high-THC cannabis, there could possibly be a risk and therefore may benefit from using medical cannabis under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner. What we are trying to illustrate is that there are risk factors to consider and our healthcare practitioners take this into consideration and will discuss any risk with the patient. On the other side, we have seen patients who are suffering from schizophrenia and are safely using medical cannabis and incorporating CBD. There is evidence to suggest and show that CBD can improve symptoms of schizophrenia or could be considered as a part of the treatment. This is an important area of research. To summarize, medical cannabis can be safe to use especially under the guidance and support of a healthcare practitioner and a patient care team.
Those are our top 14th myths we wanted to cover today for you all and we hope you learned something about the cannabis plant, and the regulations within Canada as a medical patient. If you have any other questions we can help answer, please feel free to leave them in the comments or send them to Marketing@apolloresearch.ca! Our clinic is open 7 days a week to help support your medical cannabis journey. We offer virtual appointments, and there is no charge to consult with one of our physicians or nurse practitioners, Canada-wide. Thank you for watching and wishing you all a safe and enjoyable week.