Cannabis is a plant that has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. The plant is made up of 100 active compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that produce mental and physical effects when consumed and cause euphoric, anti-convulsive and anti-inflammatory effects. Two of the most common cannabinoids are THC and CBD.
When cannabis is consumed, cannabinoids bind to receptor sites throughout the brain and body. Different cannabinoids have different effects depending on which receptors they bind to. THC binds to receptors in the brain whereas CBD mostly binds to receptors located throughout the body. As a result, different strains of Cannabis will produce varying levels and types of relief.
The remaining compounds in cannabis are mainly flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids, all of which have potentially therapeutic benefits.
When consuming cannabis, these chemical compounds are what bind to receptors within the brain and imitate endocannabinoids, a compound the human body naturally produces to maintain internal health. Cannabinoids are the biological foundation of medical cannabis.
The two most well-known cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Along with other cannabinoids and compounds found in the cannabis plant, THC and CBD are believed to be the primary compounds responsible for the therapeutic benefits of the plant.
CBD has no psychoactive properties. Due to its anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and analgesic properties, CBD can become a natural, everyday medicine for a multitude of uses. Many people report great pain relief from medical cannabis rich in CBD.
THC also has many pain relieving effects, but also has psychoactive properties that can make one feel “high”. There are many products available in Canada with isolated CBD to provide natural healing properties without any psychoactive effects.
Many patients experiment with various methods in order to find the method that provides optimal relief. There are benefits to each method and it may take some time and effort to identify the best method for you. Note that Health Canada determines the type of medical products sold and the certain of the following may not be available to you.
Inhalation is the process where the gases enter the lungs before absorbing into the bloodstream
A vaporizer is a device that heats either flowers or marijuana-infused oils to a temperature that releases the cannabinoids to a vapor, without burning any plant matter. Vaporizing is healthier than smoking since there is no smoke to ingest. There is also little to no odor when vaporizing.
Smoking is a traditionally popular way of consuming cannabis. It can be done in rolling papers, a pipe or a water pipe. However, smoking medical cannabis is not recommend as it can have negative pulmonary effects and is hard to measure dosage.
Oral method of consumption is where the product is administered through the mouth.
Capsules / Ingestible Oils
Oils often in the form of an easy-to-swallow capsule. Similar to dried cannabis, oils have specific cannabinoid properties and are manufactured to provide a certain THC and/or CBD quantity.
Oils are often in the form of an easy-to-swallow capsule. Similar to dried cannabis, oils have specific cannabinoid properties and are manufactured to provide a certain THC and/or CBD quantity. Oils may also be administered in drops or syringes under the tongue.
Tinctures are a liquid form of marijuana, typically made from glycerin or alcohol. Tinctures, like other sublingual uptake, are usually placed under the tongue with a dropper, where they are absorbed quickly. Effects can be felt within minutes. They can also be mixed into a drink but will take longer to affect the body as ythey are digested by the liver when mixed with food or drink.
Edibles are a preferred method of consumption for many individuals who are interested in long term relief. The food product enters the body for digestion and is broken down in the stomach, slowly entering the blood stream. Effects tend to cause powerful full-body, psychoactive effects. Infused food and drinks are prepared in a variety of ways but commonly, cannabis is infused via butter or oils to extract the desired properties. It can be difficult to cook with cannabis due to specific heating temperatures to sufficiently activate the cannabinoids.
Topical or transdermal application
Topical or transdermal application is done by applying a cream, spray, balm, or other oil to the skin.
Topicals are cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oils that are absorbed through the skin for localized relief of pain, soreness, and inflammation. Topicals may also be in the form of a transdermal patch.
Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids
The International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines Health Canada
CannaConnectU Learning Hub
Hempster’s Complete Guide to Everything You Need to Know about Cannabis
For Physicians: Health Canada Reference Documents
Is medical cannabis legal?
Yes, medical cannabis is legal in Canada. To be legal you (i) must have the requisite medical documentation from your doctor, and (ii) purchase your medicine from a Licensed Producer.
Who produces medical cannabis?
Licensed Producers are companies that are licensed by Health Canada to cultivate and produce cannabis for medical purposes. These companies follow strict guidelines to ensure standardized and safe medicine.
How do I choose the right medicine for me?
The therapeutic effects of cannabis vary from strain to product type. A Natural Care educator can assist you in choosing the product best suited to help you manage your symptoms and conditions.
How do I take medical cannabis?
There are many different methods to consume cannabis which entirely depend on your ailments. The most common methods for medical patients include sublingual uptake, capsules, edible oils, creams, sprays, vaporization, and topicals. Our team is happy to work with you to find a plan best suited for you.
What happens during my initial consultation?
During your initial consultation, a Natural Care representative will answer all your questions, including but not limited to:
1. Do I qualify for medical cannabis?
2. How do I get medical cannabis?
3. What is my maximum daily dosage?
4. Where am I allowed to medicate?
5. What types are products are available for me?
What type of medical documentation do I need?
All we require for our physicians to properly evaluate you is any medical document indicating that you have seen a Canadian-licensed physician regarding your medical issues such as doctor visitation notes, a symptom report, diagnosis or X-Ray will be required to qualify for medical cannabis. A copy of these medical documents can be easily requested from your doctor or medical clinic. If you are unsure if the medical documents you have are sufficient, please ask one of our representatives during your initial consultation.
Do I have to disclose to my primary doctor that I am using medical cannabis?
If you are visiting your doctor to report your symptoms or to request documentation, you are not obligated to disclose your intent to use cannabis. However, we encourage patients to have clear communication with their primary physicians.
How much does medical cannabis cost?
The price varies by widely by producer and product type. The average range for 50 ml of cannabis oil ranges from under $50 to 200$, and capsules range from $40 per bottle. Also, many of our patients obtain discounted compassionate pricing. We are happy to work with you to explain the different options available to you and their cost.
Is medical marijuana eligible as a medical expense on my income tax?
Yes, medical marijuana purchased from a licensed producer is permitted as a medical expense under the Canada Revenue Agency and qualifies for the medical tax credit.