While cannabis is now legal to purchase for recreational purposes in Canada, many people are using it for medical purposes under the supervision of a health care provider.
Here are the steps for buying medical cannabis in Canada:
- Get medical authorization
- Choose a medical cannabis product
- Register with a Licensed Producer
- Place an order
- Receive delivery
We'll go into details on these steps below.
Get medical authorization (prescription)
The first thing you will need is authorization to purchase medical cannabis. Authorization comes in the form of a medical document, which is the same as a prescription but doesn't have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) from Health Canada.
Medical Doctors and Nurse Practitioners (where permitted) are able to issue medical documents. Medical documents are valid to a maximum of 12 months.
Now here's the interesting thing about your medical document: you can't just take it to your local pharmacy. Pharmacies are not licensed to store or distribute medical cannabis.
In fact, you may never see your medical document at all, because it must be sent directly from the doctor's office to a medical cannabis supplier. (This is usually done by fax.) You might be able to get a copy, but it will be marked "Copy" and you can't use it anywhere to purchase cannabis.
Still with us? Great! Let's continue.
Choose a product
With over one hundred different licensed producers, and hundreds of different products, it can be difficult to choose which product is appropriate for you. Do you intend to vaporize your cannabis, or will you prefer a gel capsule? What about edibles, teas, or topical creams?
The supplier you choose will have a few different products to select from, but not all suppliers carry all product types. In some cases it is better to have an idea of what product you want before you decide which supplier to register with.
Services such as ours can help you decide what type of product is a good place to start, and can point you in the direction of suppliers who carry that kind of product.
Register with one or more licensed producers (LPs)
In Canada, medical cannabis suppliers (and recreational suppliers for that matter), are generally called Licensed Producers, or "LPs" for short. Some examples include Spectrum Therapeutics, Tilray, and The Green Organic Dutchman. These companies have a license to grow, process, store, distribute, and sell cannabis. At last count there were over 110 different companies licensed to sell medical cannabis to patients.
Before an LP can start taking orders from you, they need your medical document from your doctor, and they need you to register as a patient with them. You can register by on-line, or by fax or mail.
So how does your doctor know where to send your medical document?
Some doctors might have one or two LPs they are used to dealing with, and will send your medical document to one of those. It might not be ideal for you, however, as it limits your choice.
There are services, such as ours, which provide greater choice in suppliers. These services will help you figure out which LP is likely to have an appropriate product for your needs. They will also help you register and ensure your medical document gets to the LP. Some can even help you get a medical document if your own doctor is unable to provide one.
Keep in mind that your registration expires at the same time as your medical document. You can usually re-register over the phone, but you will need to get a new medical document sent in.
You will receive notification (typically by email) when your registration is complete and accepted by the LP. The process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. You will be provided with a unique ID that you will use when ordering products.
Place an order
The ID you received when you registered with the LP will allow you to log in to the LP’s website and order your medication. Most LPs will also take orders by phone as well.
There is a limit to how much you can order each month: you can order 30 days' worth of supply. So if your doctor authorized you for 1g per day, you can order 30g (or it's equivalent in oil or gel capsules) each month. Your LP will keep track of your limit for you.
Your medication will be shipped directly to your residence via Canada Post or Purolator. Many LPs offer free shipping and/or same-day or overnight shipping. You will need to sign for your delivery.
We hope this has been helpful!