Benefits of obtaining a medical cannabis document

Cannabis is legal on a federal level in Canada, in the wake of changing laws people have been unsure whether or not they actually need a medical authorization. Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada long before the Cannabis Act came into effect in 2018. Legal cannabis retailers, like the Ontario Cannabis Store, offer cannabis products but they cannot offer medical advice. 

Unlike recreational cannabis, which is used solely for enjoyment, medical cannabis is used to treat physical or psychological conditions, as well as to ease the side effects of pharmaceutical treatment like chemotherapy. 

In obtaining a medical cannabis authorization, doctors create a cannabinoid treatment plan for patients that is customized to their specific needs, conditions, symptoms, goals and level of knowledge. The difference in use between medical and recreational cannabis makes obtaining an authorization still advantageous, even in a legal world. 

Better Access

Medical cannabis clinics and patient advocacy groups help cannabis patients find the right licensed producers to meet their product and financial needs. This kind of access is not available to recreational customers, who have been affected by varying availability and store closures due to lack of stock. Certain cannabis producers only service the medical community, so their products are not available in retail stores, only through licensed producers. 

Better access doesn’t only mean reliable access to obtain cannabis products, it also about access to better products themselves. Licensed producers have to meet certain quality assurance and control markers set out by Health Canada. This means there are no surprises with medical cannabis; the products are tested for potency and safety, and all stages from seed to harvest are highly monitored. 

Expanded Rights

Medical cannabis consumption with a physician prescribed authorization allows a patient to certain human right’s protections unavailable to recreational consumers. As an approval medical treatment, patients have increased protection at work and at home. For example, a company might allow for recreational consumption at holiday parties or events but ban it from the daily workplace. A medical authorization gives patients a standardized and protected right to medicate, unless the person is impaired or unable to perform their required tasks, an employer must accommodate prescription cannabis use. 

In addition to protected human rights, a medical authorization allows for exemptions to the Cannabis Act. For instance, a recreational cannabis consumer is permitted to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at any given time and grow up to four personal use plants per household. A medical cannabis patient are permitted greater quantities of cannabis, allowing patients up to 150 grams in their possession, and they also have the option to register with Health Canada to grow additional plants. 

Insurance Coverage & Compassionate Pricing

Medical cannabis is a viable therapeutic treatment option, however it isn’t under the same frameworks as pharmaceutical treatments. As a result, it has been slow going in developing insurance plans that include medical cannabis. Sun Life Financial was the first major insurance company to offer cannabis coverage, followed by a growing number of health insurance companies including Markers Insurance and Green Shield Canada.

In addition to possible insurance coverage, medical cannabis patients are able to access compassionate pricing from their licensed producers. Compassionate pricing programs vary among the producers and offer up to 30% off of cannabis products for low income households. 

Better Support and Education

In the world of legal cannabis, some individuals believe they can simply self-medicate with recreational cannabis. Self-medicating with cannabis means using cannabis without medical authorization to alleviate physical or psychological symptoms. Not everyone knows that they are self-medicating, some consume cannabis without a prescription unknowingly to treat their symptoms, feeling relief after use. Self-medicating tends to be less effective because people often buy any strain of cannabis and take it at a random dose.

When a patient pursues a medical cannabis document they have support and access to information every step of the way. Whether it’s your first puff ever or you’re learning to use cannabis medically instead of self-medicating, physicians and clinic educators help patients learn about everything from seed to smoke. Beware of self-proclaimed cannabis educators who don’t require a medical authorization, there is no framework of certification for them and it is not a substitute for medical advice. Medical patients have access to the best education, both on strains and dosing, as well as technical inquiries such as how to clean your vaporizer.
 
Tax Benefits

Medical cannabis is one of the eligible deductions that a patient can claim on line 330 and 331 of their return with Canadian Revenue Agency. Medical cannabis is subject to HST and a federal excise tax, with an authorization patients are eligible for some remittance at tax time. Recreational cannabis cannot be claimed on taxes, even if you have a medical authorization, to access the tax benefits patients must purchase cannabis product through the licensed producer. An additional financial benefit of using a medical document is that most licensed producers will absorb the excise tax for their customers.

There are clear benefits to obtaining a medical cannabis document, it is preferable to self-prescribing for better access and financial benefits. There is a difference between needing a great strain to take to a concert (to consume in the authorized areas) and needing medical advice on how and when to take your medicine (and how much). Medical cannabis is about more than just smoking a joint, if you have a medical condition that would benefit from cannabinoid treatment don’t be afraid to talk to a healthcare practitioner about a medical cannabis document. 

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