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Not All Cannabis Products Are Legal. Here’s What Is (And What’s Next)

Not All Cannabis Products Are Legal. Here’s What Is (And What’s Next)

Cannabis will be legalized recreationally on 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.

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Hemp CBD Oil vs. Cannabis CBD Oil: 7 Differences You Need To Know

Hemp CBD Oil vs. Cannabis CBD Oil: 7 Differences You Need To Know

You’ve probably seen hemp CBD oils sold online or even in a local convenience store.

With CBD’s therapeutic benefits becoming more widely known, you may have wondered if there’s a difference between oils labelled as “hemp” and “cannabis.”

Some people buy hemp CBD oil assuming it has the same therapeutic benefits. In reality, they are two separate products with different uses.

In this post, we’ll highlight the 7 major differences between hemp CBD oil and cannabis CBD oil.

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Terpenes 101: Why They Are Important In Your Medical Cannabis Treatment

Terpenes 101: Why They Are Important In Your Medical Cannabis Treatment

THC and CBD are two of the most well-known chemical compounds that make up cannabis and can provide medical benefits. But there’s also another therapeutic compound to know about: Terpenes.

In this post, we’ll go over what terpenes are and why they matter in your treatment.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are the oils that give cannabis its smell and flavor, but they can also have medicinal benefits.

Cannabis plants can contain multiple terpenes—and the combination helps make each strain (or type) unique. This means plant breeders have many possible combinations and can grow a plant with specific characteristics in mind. This is part of the reason why cannabis can be a personalized medication and can work for various conditions.

There are about 200 different terpenes found in the cannabis plant.

You may have heard cannabis experts commenting on the smell of certain strains. For example, terpenes make the marijuana strain “Blueberry” smell like berries.

Similarly, terpenes are also found in many other plants, not just the cannabis plant. They’re responsible for the citrus scent of lemons and the refreshing fragrance of peppermint leaves.

Potential Medicinal Benefits of Terpenes

Like cannabinoids, terpenes can also play a role in the physiological and psychological effects of a certain strain.

As a 2011 study concluded, breeding cannabis for their terpene content can strengthen and broaden clinical applications.

For example, sedation is a common effect of terpenes. A 1993 study showed that over 40 terpenes have sedative effects when inhaled by mice. Linalool was the most sedating and reduced mouse motility by 73%. Knowing this, licensed producers may choose to grow cannabis specifically to have high amounts of linalool to help patients with anxiety or insomnia.

Fortunately, since many of the terpenes in cannabis are present in other plants, researchers have already studied many of their specific benefits, which we detail later on in this post.

Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

Terpenes not only have their own set of potential therapeutic benefits, but they can make the benefits of cannabinoids stronger.

Terpenes also act in a similar way to cannabinoids (marijuana’s chemicals) in the endocannabinoid system.

They contribute to what’s known as the “entourage effect.” This means that when terpenes interact with cannabinoids, they increase each other’s therapeutic benefits substantially. Put simply, they’re more effective when they’re present together than alone.

However, since there are so many different terpenes and cannabinoids, more research needs to be done to fully understand the benefits of the effect.

To learn more about the entourage effect, we recommend reading The Entourage Effect Explained Simply.

What Role Can Terpenes Play in Your Treatment with Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana doctors can match a condition to a strain that has certain terpenes present. For example:

  • A patient looking for painkilling effects may be prescribed a strain high in the terpene linalool, which is known to relieve pain.
  • Strains high in the terpene limonene may be recommended for a patient suffering from depression.
  • A patient with arthritis may benefit from a strain that has caryophyllene, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re eligible, a doctor will authorize you a prescription for medical marijuana, which allows you to purchase your medicine from a licensed producer (LP). Unlike illegal dispensaries, LPs must test their products to ensure they’re accurately labeling them. One of the things that analysis labs can test for is terpene content. This means that when you get a prescription, the amount of therapeutic terpenes you’re getting is accurately reported.

Some family physicians may recommend marijuana-based pharmaceutical drugs. However, some drugs, such as Marinol, only contain the cannabinoid THC. Unfortunately, THC alone does not contain terpenes, lessening the drug’s potential therapeutic effects. Interestingly, this could be one reason why 98% of people like natural cannabis more than Marinol, according to a 2011 survey.

Common Terpenes

Below are some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis.

Myrcene

1997 study found that myrcene was one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis. It has sedative effects and multiple therapeutic properties. It can be potentially used as an effective muscle relaxant, painkiller and anti-inflammatory. Myrcene has an earthy aroma and can also be found in mangos and lemongrass.

Pinene

Pinene has an aroma similar to a pine tree and can also be found in herbs like rosemary and basil. It can help with alertness and asthma and may be used as an anti-inflammatory. THC is sometimes associated with short-term memory loss, but pinene helps counteract this side effect.

Limonene

As you probably guessed, limonene has a citrus aroma. It has reported antifungal and anti-bacterial properties and may improve mood. Limonene can also make it easier for your body to absorb other terpenes and chemicals.

Linalool

Linalool has a floral aroma that’s also found in lavender. In studies, linalool has been found to have anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.

Caryophyllene

Spices such as oregano and basil also have high amounts of this terpene. Caryophyllene has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies also suggest that this terpene could be helpful in treating anxiety and depression. Interestingly, some people recommend taking a whiff of black pepper to calm cannabis-induced anxiety (a possible side effect of high-THC medication). One reason why some people report that this works may be that black pepper also contains caryophyllene, which may have mood-altering properties.

Eucalyptol

If you know what eucalyptus oil smells like, then you’re familiar with the scent of this terpene. Some research has shown that eucalyptol can help asthma. It may also have anti-inflammatory, anti-leukemia and immunosuppressive properties. One study found that eucalyptol is almost exclusively found in sativa strains.

Humulene

Strains with high amounts of humulene may smell similar to coriander. In studies, the terpene has demonstrated possible antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

Ocimene

Ocimene is also found in other plants such as mint and parsley. It may have antiviral and antifungal properties and may also help with decongestion. One study found that sativa-dominant strains had the highest concentration of ocimene.

Since cannabis has so many compounds, it’s often ineffective to self-medicate. Medical marijuana doctors can help you personalize your treatment.

You can get a prescription for chronic pain, mood disorders, sleep problems, harm reduction and more. Book a FREE consultation with one of our doctors today.

Can Medical Cannabis Finally Stop Your Neuropathic Pain?

Can Medical Cannabis Finally Stop Your Neuropathic Pain?

Stabbing, burning and prickling—these are the unpleasant sensations you may feel if you suffer from neuropathic pain.

There are several causes of nerve pain, but it often results from an injury or illness.

Although the sensations may come and go, they’re often chronic and severe. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain affects about two million Canadians.

For some patients, neuropathic pain can’t be fully cured and they must instead work to manage the sensations.

Luckily, many people with severe nerve pain finally find relief through medical cannabis. We’ll detail how treatment with medical marijuana works in this post.

Does Medical Cannabis Work for Neuropathic Pain?

Numerous studies have shown that marijuana can be an effective medicine for chronic pain.

But how does cannabis work to treat nerve pain specifically?

Cannabinoids—or marijuana’s chemicals— can block specific neurotransmitters that cause pain.

A recent 2018 study concluded that cannabis may be as tolerable and effective as pharmaceutical drugs used to treat nerve pain. The authors noted that physician-guided vaporization and oral delivery had the most clinical evidence.

Even if you don’t want to use significant amounts of medical cannabis to control the pain, this medicine could still work for you. Researchers studied a group of patients that still had neuropathic pain despite traditional treatment. Some patients were given a medium dose to vaporize and others were given a low dose. They found that the low dose worked as well as the medium dose. Not only did it provide relief, but the psychoactive effects, or the “high,” from cannabis was minimal and well-tolerated by sufferers.

Your medical marijuana doctor may also recommend a CBD-based medication, which you can take without getting any psychoactive effects. Recent research has found that CBD is also effective for chronic nerve pain.

Cannabis Compared to Other Drugs for Nerve Pain

If you’re considering using cannabis as a treatment, you should know how it stacks up against other nerve pain medications.

A doctor may prescribe drugs to treat the underlying disease or condition. They may also recommend medication for pain management, including:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (ex. Aleve)
  • Those with relentless pain will need a stronger drug, such as opioid medications

As we detailed above, some patients find relief from cannabis even when traditional drugs haven’t helped the pain. Stronger drugs, such as opioid medication, may not be as effective for neuropathic pain as it is for other types of pain. Research on its ability to treat patients is mixed.

Even if a narcotic pain reliever works for you, there are a variety of side effects. Short-term, they can lead to constipation, drowsiness and nausea or vomiting. On the severe side, opioid tolerance can lead to addiction.

Antidepressants have a variety of possible side effects ranging from nausea to anxiety.

Even over-the-counter pain relievers can be harmful to your heart and stomach when used long-term.

On the other hand, when a person uses cannabis, they may experience milder side effects such as impairment or anxiety.

Comparing the side effects and effectiveness of cannabis to those of other drugs, many doctors will agree that it’s a safer choice.

How to Use Medical Cannabis for Nerve Pain

There are many different types and forms of cannabis. Because of this, your medication can be personalized for you and your pain. However, for it to be effective, you need to get all of the variables correct, which is difficult when you’re self-medicating.

In addition, your medicine needs to be high-quality and consistent, and that’s why a prescription works best. In fact, the authors of a recent study on nerve pain warned against unregulated products sold in marijuana dispensaries.

Our medical cannabis doctors can help you find the medicine that works best for you. If you’re ready to finally get rid of the pain, book a no-obligation consultationtoday.

Medical Cannabis, Pain Reduction, Neuropathy, Nerve Pain

THC & CBD: The Entourage Effect Explained Simply

THC & CBD: The Entourage Effect Explained Simply

One of the reasons why cannabis is such a great medicine is because treatment can be personalized for different conditions.

Each strain of marijuana is made up of a different set of chemical compounds. The way these compounds interact with each other change how effective your medication is.

Sometimes people ask for CBD-only medicine. In this post, we’ll explain why having a variety of cannabinoids present may treat your condition better.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect refers to the way marijuana’s chemicals—called cannabinoids—interact when they’re present together. Terpenes, which are responsible for the smell, also are involved in this effect.

Each cannabinoid has its own set of therapeutic benefits. However, when multiple cannabinoids are consumed, they enhance each other’s effects. In this way, cannabinoids are more effective together than they are alone.

Let’s use the two most popular cannabinoids—THC and CBD—as an example. A patient may be prescribed a high-THC medication to help their nausea and increase appetite. However, they would also want some CBD to be present because it helps reduce THC’s side effects, such as paranoia.

If you’re having a hard time understanding this concept, think of it as a good food pairing, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A sandwich with just peanut butter may taste okay. And a sandwich with just jelly may taste alright, too. But when they’re combined together, they enhance each other’s flavors for a better experience.

Studies on the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a fairly new theory and more research needs to be done so we can fully understand how it works.

There are over 100 different cannabinoids and about 200 different terpenes that may be present in marijuana. Because there are so many possible combinations, researchers have a lot of work to do before we know the role the entourage effect plays when certain compounds are combined.

However, the research available today presents some interesting findings:

  • A 2010 study found that CBD increased THC’s ability to treat pain in cancer patients.
  • 2013 review of research found that CBD has protective effects that help counteract some psychological side effects of THC (anxiety, cognitive impairment, paranoia, etc.).
  • 2011 report suggested that terpenes may interact with cannabinoids in a way that enhances marijuana’s ability to treat pain, cancer, inflammation, anxiety, depression, epilepsy and more.

This research has also changed the way pharmaceutical companies are making cannabis products. Some marijuana-based pharmaceutical drugs, such as Marinol, only contain THC. When surveyed in 2011, 98% of participants said they liked natural cannabis more than Marinol.

The entourage effect is part of the reason why each strain—or type—of cannabis can create different effects. That’s why choosing the correct strain is critical to treatment. Our doctors are experts and can help you find which medicine works best for your condition.

To learn more, talk to us today or schedule an appointment.

thc, cbd, the entourage effect, cannabis, marijuana, benefits, medical, prescription

Cannabis and Legalization: 5 Reasons to Have a Prescription vs Self-medicating

Cannabis and Legalization: 5 Reasons to Have a Prescription vs Self-medicating


In June, the Senate passed the bill to legalize recreational marijuana. According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the law will officially come into effect on Oct. 17, 2018.

Even with recreational cannabis being legalized, there are still numerous benefits to being prescribed medical cannabis through a healthcare practitioner, as opposed to self-medicating with recreationally purchased cannabis.

In this post, we outline 5 reasons why you’ll still want a medical marijuana prescription, and the care and support that comes along with being a medical cannabis patient through a cannabis clinic.

Medical vs. Recreational Marijuana

Medical marijuana is marijuana that is prescribed by a doctor to treat specific health conditions and symptoms. The patient then fills their prescription with a licensed producer (LP). To be sure a retailer’s products meet health and safety standards, LP’s are regulated and inspected by Health Canada.

Recreational cannabis is taken by a person for enjoyment rather than for medical reasons. When cannabis becomes legalized, people will be able to purchase cannabis in storefronts without a prescription. For example, residents of Ontario will have the option of obtaining recreational cannabis, legally, from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).

Some people who use cannabis without a prescription are unknowingly “self-medicating.” This means that they are taking a medication—without medical advice—to alleviate a physical or psychological symptoms. For example, using cannabis to “relax” may actually be treating an underlying or undiagnosed anxiety disorder.

With that being said, even with recreational cannabis legalized, getting a medical marijuana prescription has many benefits over self-medicating.

#1 Effectiveness of Medical vs. Recreational Cannabis

When you have a medical cannabis prescription, you get a personalized medical cannabis treatment plan for your specific condition, symptoms, goals and level of comfortability with cannabis. When you use marijuana recreationally, you’re guessing both the correct dose and which strain to buy, especially since retail sales representatives at recreational outlets will be unable to give shoppers medical advice, or advise on the ‘effects’ of the strains sold.

To get a prescription, you can book a consultation with a doctor. Your doctor will assess your health condition and determine your eligibility.

If your doctor determines that cannabis could be an effective treatment, he or she will write you a prescription. Based on your condition, the prescription and advice your doctor gives you will be personalized in a few ways:

  • Grams per day—  A typical pharmaceutical prescription will instruct you how many pills or how much to take a day. The same is true with a medical marijuana prescription. Your doctor will determine the best dose to start off with for your condition, outlined in the amount of ‘grams’ of dried cannabis ( or the equivalent in oils ).
  • THC limit— THC, the psychoactive chemical that gives you the “high,” may be best for some conditions. Others are better treated with the second main compound, CBD. If your doctor determines that too much THC would be inappropriate for your condition, they will indicate a limit that restricts you from taking certain strains very rich in the compound THC. For example, if your doctor determines that CBD is the main cannabinoid that will help your condition, your prescription may prevent you from buying high-THC strains.
  • Strains— There are many other factors that make each strain or type of cannabis unique. These include the terpenes present and whether it’s sativa or indica-dominant. For example, a patient with a sleep disorder may find indica strains most effective, while a sativa strain may work better for someone with fatigue. When you consult a doctor, and their team of patient educators, they can also recommend the names of specific strains and proper dosing.
  • Method of administration— Many people associate marijuana with smoking, but there are a variety of other ways to consume your medication. You can consult your doctor about which method will work best for you. An Apollo patient educator can also provide administration information, such as how to use a vaporizer, and how much edible oils, or how many capsules would be recommended to take per dose, of a particular product.

Self-medicating tends to be less effective because people often buy any strain of cannabis and take it at a random dose. For this reason, they may accidentally choose a strain that makes their condition worse. Taking too much could also have negative effects and lead to tolerance quickly. Conversely, taking too little could reduce the benefits and be ineffective for one’s conditions.

Some illegal dispensaries require you to fill out a form stating your condition to obtain a membership. Memberships are not the same as prescriptions and dispensaries are still illegal and unregulated.

People may also choose to seek the advice of staff selling marijuana in an illegal storefront. While employees can give general advice, they cannot tell you what’s best for your specific needs. A qualified doctor can assess your condition, give you medical advice and monitor your progress.

#2 Medical Marijuana May Be Covered & there are Discounts for Medical Marijuana

More workplace insurance plans are starting to cover medical marijuana.

As more research on marijuana’s therapeutic benefits becomes available, more providers are recognizing it for some medical purposes, such as multiple sclerosis, HIV-AIDS, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and palliative care. Sun Life Financial became the first major insurance provider to cover cannabis for specific conditions, with many more to follow suit once cannabis is legalized.

Since recreational cannabis is used for enjoyment rather than for medical purposes, you’ll need a prescription to be covered for medical cannabis.

If you’re prescribed medical marijuana and are on government social assistance or are considered low-income, you may qualify for a discount on your medicine.

Many Licensed Producers (LPs) offer “compassionate pricing,” amounting to anywhere from $0.89 to $3 saved per gram of dried cannabis, or 10-30% off the cost of the medicine.

To find out which LP fits your financial needs, an Apollo patient educator will go over all the options and help register you with LP(s) that best suit your healthcare & financial needs.

If you don’t have a prescription for medical cannabis, you aren’t eligible for compassionate pricing on recreational cannabis purchased from retail outlets, regardless of your income bracket.

#3 Medical Marijuana is Tax Deductible

The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) allows people with prescriptions to file their cannabis costs as a medical expense. To qualify, you’ll also need to save your receipts from a Health Canada approved LP.

To get a prescription, book a consultation here.

#4 Medical Cannabis Strains, Selection & Supply

Some licensed producers, like Spectrum Cannabis, have confirmed their products and supply will be reserved only for medical patients with a prescription, and you will not be able to purchase these products in a recreational store. This means medical patients will have a dedicated and guaranteed supply of specific medical cannabis strains to ensure their needs are met.

#5 Medicate As Needed with a Prescription

When you have a prescription, marijuana is viewed as a medication that should be taken as needed. For this reason, those who use medical marijuana can medicate outside of their home if they need to. With a prescription, you don’t need to worry about being ticketed or fined for medicating in a public area. Patients will still need to abide by provincial smoking laws—such as the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. This restricts people from smoking or vaporizing cannabis in enclosed public places and some outdoor spaces.

You can get a medical marijuana prescription for pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, harm reduction and more. Book a free consultation with one of our doctors.

 

Can Marijuana Be Used To Treat Depression? Here’s The Truth

Can Marijuana Be Used To Treat Depression? Here’s The Truth

Feeling helpless, hopeless and losing interest in activities are just a few markers of depression.

Whether you’ve just started feeling depressed or have tried treatments with no success, you may not have considered another alternative medication: Marijuana.

In this post, we’ll discuss how and which types of cannabis can decrease depressive symptoms. If you want to learn how you may be able to treat your depression using medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana For Migraines: Can It Stop The Pain?

Medical Marijuana For Migraines: Can It Stop The Pain?

If you’re someone who suffers from migraines, you know that its effects can be debilitating and difficult to treat.

A migraine is a throbbing headache that is often coupled with other symptoms such as nausea and vision loss. While most of us have experienced some form of a headache, migraines can become so severe that a person is unable to work.

Fortunately, if your migraines have been stubborn to traditional treatments, you have another option: Medical cannabis.

In this post, we’ll explain how medical marijuana can be used for migraines—both to prevent it and treat the pain it causes.

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Medical Marijuana Doctors vs. Self-Medicating: Is There A Difference?

Medical Marijuana Doctors vs. Self-Medicating: Is There A Difference?

Even when marijuana is legalized, it still may be beneficial for you to seek treatment from a medical marijuana doctor.

This post outlines three major reasons why getting a medical marijuana doctor could be in your best interest.

What Is Self-Medicating?

The term “self-medicating” is used to describe someone who takes a medication—without a prescription or medical advice—to relieve symptoms of a physical or psychological condition.

People don’t always know that they are self-medicating. For example, using cannabis after work to help with stress may actually be a way to self-medicate for anxiety.

If you’re already using marijuana to self-medicate, you may wonder if there’s a point in seeing a medical marijuana doctor. However, treating your condition with the help of a doctor can be much more effective.

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Does OHIP Cover Medical Marijuana?

Does OHIP Cover Medical Marijuana?

If you’re considering trying medical marijuana, you may be wondering if it’s covered by OHIP.

In this post, we’ll discuss if medical cannabis is covered by provincial health insurance programs or private insurance. We’ll also go over alternative options to save money on your medication.

Does OHIP Cover Medical Marijuana?

The short answer: Medical marijuana appointments with a qualified doctor are covered by OHIP. However, the medical marijuana you are prescribed—and cannabis-related devices such as vaporizers—are not covered by OHIP.

Medical cannabis doesn’t have a DIN (drug identification number) yet. For this reason, it isn’t covered by OHIP and other provincial health insurance programs. However, some exceptions may apply to synthetic marijuana medications, such as Nabilone (Cesamet®).

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