Cannabis is now legal recreationally since October 17th 2018—but that doesn’t mean every form can be legally sold. With so many different forms of marijuana, it can be confusing to know which are regulated.
In this post, we’ll walk you through what’s legal now and what could be legal in the future.
**Please note this was written in 2018. To see what new products are available as of 2021, you can click here.
Current Legal Forms of Cannabis
Although there are many forms of cannabis, only certain types can be manufactured and distributed according to Canadian law. These include medicinal laws—as laid out by the Licensed Producers under Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR)—and recreational laws—as directed by the Cannabis Act.
When most people think about marijuana, they are picturing dried plant material. Buds from the cannabis plant are cured by drying them slowly in a controlled environment. This increases their medicinal potency and quality. After this process, the dried cannabis is ready to be used. Although some patients roll cannabis into joints to smoke it, vaporizing is a safer method that won’t irritate the lungs and is recommended by Apollo and Health Canada.
Decarb is medical cannabis buds which have been heated to activation. It is usually then finely milled into a ground powder format which makes it easy to create capsules, or sprinkle on food. Similar to cannabis oils and capsules, it can take 2-3 hours to reach peak effects of decarb, as it must be digested. This form of medical cannabis is less common, but preferred by some patients who like the flexibility of dose and consumption decarb provides.
Cannabis oil is legally available with a prescription under the ACMPR, and will soon be available recreationally. There’s different strains or “types” of dried cannabis, and the same is true for oil. A medical marijuana doctor may recommend an indica or sativa-dominant oil, depending on the patient’s condition. Some Licensed Producers (LPs) also manufacture hybrid oils that are a balance of both. If the person doesn’t want a “high” from their medicine or if they have certain conditions, a doctor can prescribe a high-CBD oil. An oil can be taken orally or it can be mixed with foods or drinks for a less harsh taste.
Unlike some other forms of cannabis, it’s much easier to get your exact recommended dose consistently by taking a capsule, which is filled with cannabis oil. It can also be a good option for people who feel intimidated by the thought of cannabis and are more comfortable with traditional forms of medicine. Some patients may prefer to make their own capsules by inserting their recommended dose of cannabis oil into an empty capsule. However, some LPs sell pre-made capsules or soft gels for easy consumption.
Some LPs make their cannabis oils into a spray that can be taken sublingually (under the tongue). Medicine taken this way may reach the bloodstream a little quicker than digesting it (edibles), but slower than inhaling it (vaporizing). It’s a discreet way to take your medicine and can be made from high-THC or high-CBD oils.
Making Your Own Products (Food, Drink, Etc.)
Both the ACMPR and the Cannabis Act allow people to make their own products such as food or drinks from dried cannabis or cannabis oil. For example, you can use dried cannabis to make oil. You can then use that cannabis oil (or purchased cannabis oil) to make or modify a food or beverage. However, the Cannabis Act states that it can’t be used to make a concentrate… yet (laws for concentrates will come into effect around Oct. 2019).
Seeds & Clones
Under the Cannabis Act, adults can grow up to 4 plants per household. Under the ACMPR, medical patients can grow a set amount of plants based on their prescription ( number of grams per day ) and the location of their plants ( indoor, outdoor or seasonal). In order to grow, one needs to obtain starting materials from a Health Canada approved Licensed Producer. These starting materials can be clones, cut from a mother plant, or seeds. It is not legal to obtain starting materials from a friend, or illegal seed bank, for example.
The Future of Cannabis Products
Aside from the legal forms of cannabis, there are many other types that aren’t approved under the ACMPR or Cannabis Act but that could be on the horizon.
Edibles will likely be the next cannabis form to be legal in Canada. Although the Cannabis Act allows you to make edibles at home using dried cannabis or oil, they cannot be legally sold yet. “Pot brownies” may be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider edibles, but the options could be endless. This category may also include cannabis-infused drinks. When edibles become legal, companies will need to educate patients on how to properly take it. For example, it takes longer for cannabis to reach your bloodstream when it’s ingested versus when it’s vaporized. To avoid a bad experience, patients will need to start with a low dose and wait for the delayed effect.
Along with edibles, the government has said that laws for concentrates will come into effect around Oct. 2019. Concentrates are very potent forms of cannabis—these include shatter, wax, crumble and more. These products may be consumed in various ways, including vaporizing. Patients should know that because these products are more concentrated, they’ll need to take less to avoid an uncomfortable “high.” Patients who consume large amounts of dried cannabis to control their symptoms, may prefer concentrates.
As concentrates become legal, so may pre-filled vape pens and vape pen cartridges. These cartridges can be filled with a concentrate mentioned above and can provide an easy way for a patient to consume their medicine without smoking. Vape pens are generally very portable and will offer patients a discreet and convenient way to consume their medicine, on the go.
Cannabis-infused topicals can’t be offered by LPs yet but could be useful for a variety of conditions. Topicals are absorbed by the skin, so they can provide localized relief. However, since they usually avoid the bloodstream, they typically won’t make you “high.”
Although some people report using cannabis oil to make their own topicals, you should always talk to your medical marijuana doctor before changing your medication form or dose. In the future, it may be legal in Canada to infuse marijuana into products such as lotions, creams, balms, patches and sexual lubricants.
Even with cannabis legalized recreationally, there are still a variety of reasons why getting a prescription is beneficial.
For cannabis to be an effective medicine, you need to find the right type, dose and form for your condition. A doctor can help personalize your treatment. If you want to know how, book a no-obligation appointment today.