Medical marijuana requires a prescription and is a strain of marijuana used to treat the pain and inflammation of many diseases and disorders including, cancer, arthritis, auto-immune disorders and more. Marijuana derives from the Cannabis Sativa plant, the same species of which hemp derives. There are many differences between hemp and marijuana, but the most notable is that hemp as less than .3% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol whereas marijuana has between .5 and 30% depending on the strain. THC is the cannabinoid which gives marijuana its psychoactive qualities or the euphoric high.
Medical cannabis, both hemp and marijuana work with the body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS on a cellular level signaling C1 and C2 receptors to turn off the acid causing pain and inflammation.
Medical marijuana is legal throughout Canada but must be obtained with a prescription. It is estimated there are over 420,000 Canadians using medical marijuana. There are many qualified medical marijuana doctors. Though cannabis treatment is an emerging and important field of medicine, some physicians are hesitant to add marijuana treatment to their practice because of the ongoing legal controversies. Medical marijuana doctors have stringent guidelines limiting their ability to treat patients.
One such provision is the requirement that other traditional treatments must fail first. Frustration is present since cannabis is often the preferred way to address many conditions because of its relatively low incidents of adverse side- effects when to compared to prescription drugs.
Much of the legal controversy surrounding marijuana lies with the issue of the dispensary. There are hundreds of cannabis dispensaries throughout Canada with dozens more planned, especially in the major metropolitan areas such as Toronto.
Dispensaries are a favorable option for patients when compared to online shopping. The dispensaries are licensed by the city and are usually monitored for quality and legal compliance. It gives a patient the opportunity to ask questions face to face and see the product before purchasing.
Opponents of the dispensaries argue that they are technically illegal. The established law, MMPR allows confirmed patients, of which there are about 80,000 to obtain their product by mail. Recently a law (MMAR) was passed allowing about 30,000 of these patients to grow their own medical marijuana. Many of those patients do not have the space or physical ability to cultivate the plants. The proxy growers can produce much more product than needed, and the surplus ends up at the dispensaries.
With more research and scientific evidence continuously presented the legal argument may eventually come to an end. Health Minister Jane Philpott has announced legislation to legalize marijuana outright will be introduced in the spring of 2017. In addition to the research, the bill will be supported by a regulation and safety task force as well as heartfelt testimony from patients.