About Medical Cannabis
Everything you need to know about legally purchasing and using Medical Marijuana in Canada.
Medical Cannabis Basics
The information contained within this document should be used as a guide, and should not be considered medical or legal advice. Likewise, this document is only to be used by patients who are prescribed medical cannabis at an Apollo Cannabis Clinic site. At the time of publication, everything contained herein was considered to contain factual information regarding the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), the appropriate use of a vaporizer, and other important aspects of medical cannabis use.
What is Medical Cannabis?
There are two main components in the cannabis plant, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), which both belong to a class of compounds called cannabinoids. Other cannabinoids exist, but less is known about the effects of these compounds.
CBD has neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties which help to relieve pain, but does not make people feel “high”. Many people report great pain relief from strains of medical cannabis that are rich in CBD.
THC also has some pain-relieving effects, but believed to cause many of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
What Are The Possible Side Effects of Medical Cannabis?
- dizziness, drowsiness, feeling faint or lightheaded, fatigue, headache;
- impaired memory and disturbances in attention, concentration and ability to think and make decisions;
- disorientation, confusion, feeling “drunk”, feeling abnormal or having abnormal thoughts, feeling “too high”, feelings of unreality, feeling an extreme slowing of time;
- suspiciousness, nervousness, episodes of anxiety resembling a panic attack, paranoia (loss of contact with reality), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that do not exist);
- impairments in motor skills and perception, altered bodily perceptions, loss of full control of bodily movements, falls;
- dry mouth, throat irritation, coughing;
- nausea, vomiting; and
- fast heartbeat.
Please note there may be side effects that are not yet known. You should always consult a physician if you experience any of these side-effects or experience anything unexpected.
How Does Medical Cannabis Work?
When heated, marijuana will release THC and CBD. It is believed that when these compounds enter the body, they act to prevent the nerve signals coming from the site of pain from being understood by the brain.
Will Medical Cannabis Make me High?
You do not need to ‘get high’ to benefit from medical cannabis. Cannabis contains two main compounds – CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the compound that creates that ‘high’ or euphoria effect and CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning there is no ‘high’ obtained from it. Both compounds are medically beneficial and used often in combination with each other for best effect.
With that said, many patients choose to use strains that are very low in the compound THC, and rich in the compound CBD during the day, in order to manage their symptoms, without feeling ‘high’. Based on your needs, we will help you create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your concerns and treatment goals to ensure maximum benefit.
How do I Purchase my Medical Cannabis?
Once your prescription and registration forms are faxed to the licensed producer (done centrally by Apollo Applied Research Inc.), the licensed producer will contact you by phone within 2 days of receiving your prescription, allowing you to place your order for medical cannabis. If the licensed producer does not call you within 2 days you should notify Apollo Applied Research Inc. or your physician.
You will be required to pay for your medical cannabis using a credit card, or pre-paid card over the phone. The licensed producers are not permitted to accept payment by any other method (e.g. debit card, cash, cheque, money order).
Once the payment has been processed, the licensed producer will let you know the exact day the product will be shipped. The medication will be shipped to your door by courier. You must be home to sign for the package, if you are not home, the courier will leave a notice to inform you where you can pick up the package in-person.
What is The Price Range?
This depends on the strain of cannabis and dosage you are prescribed. Medical cannabis offered by licensed producers range in price from $2.50/gram to $15.00/gram. You will be allowed to purchase up to 30 days’ worth of medical cannabis at one time.
Can I Get a Medical Cannabis Prescription Without a Doctor’s Referral?
If you’re unable to get your family doctor to fill out our referral form, please bring any medical records (i.e., MRI’s, consultation notes etc) to verify your condition. A list of current or previously tried medication is also acceptable (a print out from the pharmacy is preferred).
Do I Have to Purchase The Maximum Amount on my Prescription?
Medical cannabis patients can purchase up to the maximum amount prescribed, once every month, but are not required to purchase the full amount. For example, if a patient is prescribed 1 gram / day for 6 months, then they may purchase 20 grams the first month, and 30 grams the second and third month. Patients are however limited to only purchase strains at or below the prescribed THC percentage amount.
Is Medical Cannabis Covered by Insurance?
In most cases no. Unfortunately at this time most private insurance companies, and public health organizations aren’t covering the cost of medical cannabis, although there are a select few who do cover medical cannabis. Hopefully with more research coming out regarding the benefits of medical cannabis, more insurance companies will start to offer coverage.
Rules And Regulations For Purchasing Medical Cannabis
According to Health Canada, you are only allowed to place an order for and buy 30 days’ worth of cannabis at a given time. For example if your prescription is 1 gram per day, for 3 months, the most that you can buy at a time is 30 grams of cannabis. You must contact the licensed producer 30 days after you have purchased your first month’s supply to purchase the next month’s supply of medication. Please remember that you are only allowed to purchase more medication within a 30 day period if you are written a prescription for a greater dose during those 30 days.
You are legally allowed to carry with you the maximum amount of cannabis that you are permitted to buy for 30 days (in the example above this would be 30 grams).
There are many intricacies to purchasing medical cannabis, many of which are regulated by Health Canada. Apollo Applied Research Inc. will help to manage these intricacies for you. Should you have any questions about this process, you should contact your licensed producer or Apollo Applied Research Inc. directly.
General Licensing Rules
- Please remember that your license for medical cannabis possession is on each bottle of cannabis that is shipped to you. If you leave your house with the medical cannabis, it should always be carried in the original bottle.
- The license on the bottle has an expiration date, you are not legally allowed to carry medical canna bis after that date, unless you have seen a doctor and received a prescription past the date printed on the bottle.
- You are not legally allowed to leave the country with medical cannabis, even if you are travelling to places where cannabis is legal.
- You can travel/fly with medical cannabis within Canada, but please take all necessary precautions to prevent and issues by ensuring that you carry the cannabis in the original bottle you received it in which includes your license to possess medical cannabis.
Can I go to a Pharmacy And Pick up my Prescribed Medical Cannabis?
No. The only method of ordering medical cannabis is directly through the licensed producer. No pharmacy is legally authorized to sell or provide medical cannabis.
Is it a Pill?
Medical cannabis patients have 3 main options for administering their medicine:
- Dried Cannabis: which should be vaporized and inhaled
- Edible Cannabis Oils: which are placed under the tongue then swallowed
- Cannabis Oil Capsules: which are swallowed like a regular pill
Each method can affect the body differently and an Apollo patient educator will work with you to choose a method, or combination of methods best for you and your condition.
Apollo’s Recommended Mode of Administration: Vaporization
Health Canada and Apollo Applied Research Inc. recommend that medical cannabis be administered by vaporization. Research has shown that vaporization can be up to 80% more effective than smoking, which means that with vaporization you are able to use less medication for the same effect, then if you smoked it. Additionally, vaporization produces approximately 95% fewer carcinogens and is less likely to irritate the upper airway, versus smoking cannabis.
It is important to remember that smoking cannabis, just as smoking anything else, is carcinogenic. It is not healthy for you to consume anything by the process of smoking. The use of pipes, bongs or other methods that require burning the cannabis are just as unhealthy as smoking cannabis cigarettes.
Many recreational users of cannabis choose to produce edible products out of cannabis. Under the medical cannabis regulations, it is not permitted to produce other products using the medicine, including baked goods, oils or “budder”. More importantly, cannabis has unpredictable effects on people when consumed in this manner, making it potentially unsafe and unreliable as a treatment.
What Should You Look For When Buying a Vaporizer?
Multiple Temperature Settings:
Regardless of which vaporizer you purchase, it should have multiple temperature settings. The medicinal properties in cannabis are activated through the process of heating, so you must have control over the temperature setting. The key is to heat cannabis as much as possible without burning. Your vaporizer should have temperature settings for 200°C or higher.
You may be administering medical cannabis multiple times throughout the day (on average 3 times a day) in order to achieve continuous pain relief. Therefore, at times when you are out in public and need to vaporize, it may be easier to medicate if the device is easy to carry, is light, and also discreet.
How Much Should I Vaporize?
Your physician will decide the total amount of medical cannabis you should use each day (for example, 1 gram per day). This total amount is a maximum, but we recommend using the full amount prescribed to you by your physician.
It is not typically recommended for a patient to consume the entirety of their prescription at one time. In order to achieve continuous pain relief it is recommended that you divide your daily dose into smaller separate doses, taken periodically during the day. For example, if you are prescribed a total daily dose of 1 gram per day, you may choose to use 0.3 grams in the morning, 0.3 grams in the afternoon and 0.4 grams in the evening.
Often patients report that slightly more medication consumed in the evening helps to reduce disruptions in their sleep. If there is a time during the day that your pain is far worse than other times, more medication can be used during those painful times. If you are prescribed a total daily dose of 1 gram per day, and your pain is the worse in the morning, you may choose to use 0.4 grams in the morning, 0.3 grams in the afternoon, and 0.3 grams in the evening.
Changes to the way you split your total daily dose of medication is completely up to you. We recommend that if you are changing your medication dosage, you should consult with an expert at Apollo Applied Research and/or your physician.
A major advantage of this medication is that you have control over when and how much to administer and you can make your dosing schedule match to fit your lifestyle. It is encouraged to determine a dosing schedule that works best for you to maximize your pain relief.
We have provided a Daily Medication Log in this informational package which we strong recommend you use. It is aimed at helping you keep track of your dosing schedule. Writing down how much you vaporize and at what time in the day will provide you with a written record of what works and what doesn’t. It is important to keep in mind that every patient will react slightly different, and have different dosing schedules, and so it is up to you to find a balance that will give you the greatest pain relief.
Where Can I Buy a Vaporizer?
You can purchase a Vaporizer directly from Apollo Applied Reasearch Inc. Not only do we sell many Vaporizers, but our patient educators have the knowledge and expertise to assist you in recommending a Vaporizer tailored to your specific wants and needs. Vaporizers can also be purchased from stores that sell recreational cannabis-related products, such as ‘head shops’. Some of these stores will sell Vaporizers online and ship them to your house.