Below you will find answers to some of the commonly asked questions about medical cannabis.
Medical Cannabis 101
The term “medical cannabis” is used to describe products derived from the whole cannabis plant or its extracts containing a variety of active cannabinoids and terpenes, which patients take for medical reasons, after interacting with and obtaining authorization from their health care practitioner.
There is moderate to substantial evidence of the potential therapeutic uses for medical cannabis or its component chemicals (cannabinoids) in treating various symptoms such as chronic pain, HIV/AIDS-associated weight loss, nausea/vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and spasticity with multiple sclerosis.
National Academic of Sciences. An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. 2017
Yes, abrupt discontinuation after long-term use may result in withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, chronic use may result in psychological dependence.
Pharmacological cannabinoids such as Sativex® (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-cannabidiol) and Cesamet® (nabilone) have been approved for specific indications by Health Canada, however medical cannabis does not have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). When Health Canada classifies it as a prescription drug, a DIN will be issued to medical cannabis to aid patients with reimbursement.
Cannabis can be accessed by medical cannabis appropriate patients who have an authorization/prescription from a medical doctor or nurse practitioner.
Even though pharmacists are not dispensing medical cannabis at this time, it is important for pharmacists to understand how their patients may use and access medical cannabis in order to provide effective medication management. Pharmacists may provide counselling on areas such as contraindications, drug interactions, management of side effects, alternative therapies, potential addictive behaviour, and appropriate use.
- Medical Cannabis FAQ – Canadian Pharmacists Association
The chemical ingredients of cannabis are called cannabinoids. The two main therapeutic ones are:
a. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a partial agonist of CB1 and CB2 receptors. It is psychoactive and produces a euphoric effect.
b. Cannabidiol (CBD) has a weak affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors and appears to exert its activity by enhancing the positive effects of the body’s endogenous cannabinoids.
Each cannabis product will contain THC and CBD, however, the THC: CBD ratio will differ depending on the product and/or licensed producer.
Patients taking cannabis for medical reasons generally use cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms while minimizing intoxication, whereas recreational users may be taking cannabis for euphoric effects. Medical cannabis is authorized by a prescriber who provides a medical document allowing individuals to obtain from a licensed producer or apply to Health Canada to grow their own, whereas recreational cannabis is currently obtained through illicit means.
Benefits for medical cannabis vs. recreational:
- A physician authorized to accommodate workplace policies
- Farm-to-table from a Health Canada Licensed Producer
- Compassionate pricing from some Licensed Producers (based on income)
- Claimable medical expense on taxes
- Coverage through health benefits
- Physician care and support
- Higher possession limits
“Hemp” and “cannabis” are terms for the same species of plant, cannabis sativa. Although similar in appearance, the term “hemp” is used to classify cannabis plants that contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The therapeutic effects of other compounds found in cannabis material, such as terpenes, are not yet well understood. There are still no human studies to date on the potential benefits of terpenes, only animal-based research.
Learn more about the terpenes found in cannabis and their potential therapeutic benefits here.
The entourage effect is a proposed mechanism by which cannabis compounds other than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) act synergistically with it to modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant.
Health & Safety
Cannabis has a superior safety profile compared to many other medications, and there are no recorded deaths due to an overdose of cannabis. THC-related side effects are most common but can be reduced or prevented by a “start low and go slow” dosing strategy. Your doctor will discuss other possible side-effects with you, and Health Canada provides more information here.
If mild or moderate:
- Contact a friend or family member and talk it out
- Sit in a quiet place and take some deep breathes to calm you down
- Distract yourself with music or a movie
- Contact a friend or family member to drive you to the emergency room or call 911
Future dosing considerations:
- Consider changing the route of administration
- Add CBD
- Reduce to a previously tolerated dose
- Reduce THC
- Consider changing strains
Quick Tips for Edibles:
- Start with small amounts: 2.5 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or less for products that you eat or drink
- Don’t take more right away – effects from an edible cannabis product may not be felt for 2 hours, and may take 4 hours for effects to peak
- Clear your schedule – the effects from edible cannabis last 4 to 12 hours with some effects lasting up to 24 hours
- Label and store all cannabis securely. Edible cannabis often looks like regular food such as baked goods or candy; to reduce the risk of accidental consumption label your cannabis edibles and store them securely away from food products and out of the reach of children and pets.
- Always obtain cannabis and cannabis products from a legal source.
- If you or someone you know has accidentally consumed cannabis or consumed too much and is not well, seek immediate assistance: Call BC Poison Control Centre: 1 800-567-8911, or 604 682-5050.
- Call 911 or go to your local hospital emergency department.
Edible Cannabis Affects People Differently ‘start low – go slow’ – Government of British Columbia
Store you cannabis in a room temperature location, ensuring that it is away from any children and pets.
Recommended routes of administration will be:
It can be consumed orally or by inhalation (vaporizing). The route of administration will depend on physician recommendation and availability through the licensed producer.
It can be consumed orally (under the tongue) or mixed with food. Cannabis oils, provided by licensed producers, can not be vaporized due to the carrier oils used.
Please note that other forms of cannabis such as edibles or tinctures are not sold by licensed producers under the ACMPR as they considered illegal by Health Canada.
Cannabis oil is processed differently by the body to dried cannabis. Cannabis oil creates a gradual onset of effects that are longer lasting than smoking or vaporizing dried cannabis.
Effects of impairment, including attention, concentration and decision making deficits, can last up to 24 hours and even longer for some individuals.
Avoid driving, operating machinery important decisions, or activity alike for at least:
- 4 hours after inhalation
- 6 hours after ingestion of oils or edibles
- 8 hours after any feeling of euphoria
- Longer than 8 hours if feeling intoxicated
For more information, go to http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/cannabis
It is illegal to travel across the border and internationally with cannabis (marijuana) in your possession.
In the case of a domestic flight, please be advised that unforeseen situations may and do arise that require a domestic flight to divert to a U.S. airport, where arriving in possession of cannabis is not legal.
If you are refused entry into a country because you have cannabis in your possession, you alone will be responsible for the consequences, including for payment of your return trip home.
You can find more information here.
Laws & Regulations
Loss or theft reporting: Any losses that cannot be explained on the basis of normally accepted operations or business activities, as applicable such as manufacturer’s shortages; unexplained yield loss during manufacturing or packaging; and other unexplained loss should also be reported by a licence holder per the regulations. Registered and designated persons, pharmacists, practitioners, health care practitioners and hospitals must report any loss or theft to the CSCB after becoming aware of the loss or theft.
Reporting to the police: It is mandatory for licence holders and registered/designated person to report losses or thefts pertaining to cannabis to the police within 24 hours of the date of discovery. Pharmacist, health care practitioners, practitioners or hospitals do not need to report losses or thefts to the police.
For more information, click here.
Depending on where you live, the rules for recreational cannabis use in public vary. In some jurisdictions (such as Alberta’s proposed regulations), the only restrictions are that you are not permitted to consume near hospitals, schools or childcare facilities. In other provinces, such as Ontario, consumption may be banned from anywhere outside of your private residence. In shared buildings such as apartments and condominiums, you may not even be able to use the recreational products in your own residence.
Medical cannabis rules are different: your legal rights allow you to smoke or vaporize your medicine in public, as long as you do so in a space that is also designated for public tobacco use.
It’s worth noting that oils and edibles are allowed anywhere, as long as they are for medical purposes. It’s also worth noting that Greenleaf Medical Clinic does NOT endorse smoking of any product, for any reason, as smoking poses known risks to overall health. Vaporizing is different than smoking.
The lesser of 150 grams or a 30-day supply of dried cannabis (or the equivalent in cannabis product) in addition to the 30 grams allowed for non-medical purposes
For more information, click here.
If asked by law enforcement, you can demonstrate that you are in legal possession of cannabis for medical purposes obtained from a licensed producer by showing either the label on the package containing your specific client information or the separate document containing the same information which accompanied your shipment of cannabis.
The office is open on a case by case basis. Please call or message live chat on our website for hours that we are in the clinic.
No, we are not a dispensary. We are a specialized medical cannabis clinic. All patient assessments are by appointment only.
Our membership fee is based on a sliding scale that is determined by your income.
- Annual income: $99
- Annual income less than $30,000: $75
- Paediatric patients: $150
- Growing your own cannabis: $200
* Fees are due every 7 months (taxes not included) *
For more information on what's included with our membership, click here.
Becoming a Patient with Greenleaf
If you have a referral, we will contact you to start the assessment process. If you are self-referred, we will contact you to acquire medical records.
No, we do not require a referral, however, a referral is preferred.
Your physician will be able to find our Patient Referral Form here. Completed forms can be fax to our clinic at 604-371-2044.
On average the process is 2–4 weeks. This is dependant on when we receive your paperwork and records from your medical office.
We are currently not accepting in-person visits, appointments are conducted over zoom. If you don’t have access to zoom we can set up a phone call.
The cost for the appointment is income tax deductible and you will receive an invoice upon your appointment. Medical plans do not cover the cost of this medication or appointment. If you are a member of Veterans Affairs please inform our office staff at the time of booking.
Where do I send my tax documents or notice of assessment to see if I qualify for compassionate pricing?
Our office is happy to accept your tax documents or notice of assessment to determine if you qualify for compassionate pricing with Greenleaf Medical Clinic. Please e-mail your documents to email@example.com.
The medical document includes information such as the daily amount of cannabis needed, the duration of the prescription as well as any restrictions.
After your appointment with us, please give our office 1-2 business days to send your prescription along with any other required documents to the Licensed Producer. Once your prescription has been submitted to the Licensed Producer the timeline will depend on their registration team. The average time for registration with a Licensed Producer is approximately 3-5 business days once the medical documents have been received.
While the daily gram per day amount does vary from patient to patient our clinic does not sign applications for over 5 grams per day. No exceptions.
When you are assessed in the clinic, your cannabis educator will either ask you to complete paper registration forms or will register you online. If you are assessed using telemedicine, you will be required to complete the online registration forms for your licensed seller.
Patients must obtain a medical document from their physician or nurse practitioner (in provinces/territories where applicable). Patients can obtain cannabis in one of three ways:
a. Register with a licensed producer, listed on Health Canada’s website: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada.html
b. Register with Health Canada to grow a limited amount for their own medical purposes: https://www.canada.ca/en.html
c. Designate someone else to produce it for them.
To view the process of becoming a patient at Greenleaf Medical Clinic please visit the ‘Our Process‘ Page. If you find your questions aren’t answered by that page, please give our office a call.
If a patient wishes to cancel or re-book their appointment it must be done so within 1 full week prior to their appointment date. Failure to cancel or re-book within this time period will subject you to a non-refundable charge. Cancellations and re-bookings can only be done by speaking to our staff in person or by telephone. E-mails and voice mails will not be accepted. No exceptions.
A licensed seller holds a licence issued by Health Canada, under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, to produce quality-controlled cannabis under secure and sanitary conditions.
Follow these simple steps…
- Choose a company from the link here.
- Contact your current licensed seller, to request that they fax the original medical document to the new company of your choice.
- Visit the website of the new licensed seller to register as a patient.
- Advise Greenleaf of your licensed seller change.
- If you require a new treatment plan, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Licensed sellers are required to follow the technical specification for testing dried marijuana for medical purposes. This document is available on the Health Canada website and outlines the conditions that must be met for quality assurance. Health Canada inspects licensed sellers to ensure they meet the requirements of the regulations, including these specifications. You can find more information here.
Currently, there are over 100 Health Canada-approved licensed sellers. You can read more about them on the Health Canada website.
Yes, you can obtain your medical cannabis from the licensed seller of your choice. Our cannabis educators will work with you during your appointment to help you figure out which licensed seller would be fit your needs the best.
There is nothing more frustrating than going to place your order and your licensed seller has no inventory. We apologize for the hassle. However, their inventory levels are out of our control.
If this happens, please contact us and we will either substitute your product or change you to a different licensed seller.
Your cannabis will be sent to you directly by the licensed seller. The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) prohibits the possession, trafficking, import and export, and production of controlled substances, including marijuana, unless authorized by regulations. Neither the ACMPR nor any other Health Canada regulations authorize licensed sellers to provide cannabis for medical purposes through a storefront.
You will obtain your medication from the legal licensed commercial seller that you have registered with. Prices vary from $3.00-$12.00 per gram depending on your own personal needs.
For a list of all sellers please review here:
Licensed sellers offer secure online shopping, credit card phone orders and mail-in orders for our patients. Some licensed sellers will also offer e-transfers.
All good things take time. The licensed seller can take 5 business days to complete your registration. If you have not heard from the company by the 5th day, let us know and we will follow up for you.
Please note: You will not be able to place an order until you have confirmation from your licensed seller that your account has been activated.
All licensed commercial sellers have their own approval timeline. The approval can take a few days to a few weeks.
Although a patient is responsible for completing their documentation we do a review, correct, make copies of and send all documentation to the licensed commercial seller of your choice by courier. Any changes such as an address change after your application has been approved will be the responsibility of the patient.
Growing Your Own Cannabis
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations or ACMPR is the newest set of regulations put forth by Health Canada to give qualified patients access to safe, high-quality medical marijuana. Under these regulations, patients are required to obtain a medical document from their physician, which acts as a prescription for marijuana. Once you obtain this medical document you may choose a licensed seller to register as a patient. Your chosen licensed producer will verify the medical document and your registration forms.
With the appropriate medical document from your health care practitioner, you can apply to register with Health Canada to produce cannabis for your own medical purposes or to designate someone to produce it for you.
For those who wish to grow with a registration certificate from Health Canada, patients are capped to their number of prescribed grams per day, using a plant equivalency ratio. It’s easy to figure out how many plants Health Canada will enable you to grow: for every gram per day your doctor sets out on the medical document, you’ll be able to grow 5 indoor or 2 outdoor plants. Therefore, an individual with a 3 gram per day license may grow up to 15 indoor plants.
Link to plant a calculator for your personal home growing license limits.
At present, legally registered medical cannabis patients are only allowed to purchase seeds from licensed sellers regulated by Health Canada.
Make sure you buy feminized seeds. Only unfertilized female cannabis plants produce the seedless buds desired by cannabis users.
Some licensed cannabis sellers also sell clones or pre-germinated plants cut from a mother plant. Cloned plants are more expensive than seeds, but are guaranteed to be female because they’re a perfect genetic copy of the mother plant
Growing a bountiful crop of cannabis indoors requires a fully enclosed area in order to properly manage temperature, light and humidity levels.
It is recommended that novice growers purchase a light-proof, vented “grow tent” to house their cannabis garden within another room. These grow tents are light-proof, very durable, trap all the odour in and come in a range of sizes, but it’s very beginner-friendly.
You’ll need to provide an original medical document to Health Canada in order to register to grow your own, a copy of this document will not be accepted.
You may continue to fill your prescription with your licensed seller – you will however be required to obtain a new prescription from your Health Care Practitioner in order to apply to grow as Health Canada requires the original.
Can my chosen licensed seller give back my original medical document so I can apply to grow through Health Canada?
Unfortunately, as per ACMPR Prohibition – transfer of document, a licensed producer must not transfer to any person a medical document on the basis of which a client has already been registered. You must obtain another medical document from your Health Care Practitioner.
Anyone with a valid registration certificate will be able to access the licensed seller supply “in the interim” before they are able to harvest products. However, you must provide a copy of the registration certificate in order to register with ONE licensed seller – We suggest to consider discussing with your physician to have 2 prescriptions; one to apply to grow and one to ensure continuous accessible supply to your medicine as the application may be a lengthy one. It is for you and your Physician to discuss what would be best for you.