There are three routes people are taking to buy cannabis and CBD products: 1) black market; 2) retail; and 3) medical.
If you're trying to treat a medical condition and are concerned about cost, we recommend #3. Read on to learn why.
The black market
There are many CBD products being marketed on-line by companies that are not licensed by Health Canada to make or sell products containing CBD. If you search "where to get CBD oil" or "how to buy CBD oil" many such websites will show up. These companies are operating illegally and their products may have issues relating to their quality, contamination, and even the amount of CBD advertised as being in the product.
The only legal sources for cannabis and CBD products are licensed retail outlets and direct from Licensed Producers themselves (with a prescription).
By the way, we've compared the cost of black market CBD oil with legal products and found that in most cases legal CBD oil is cheaper than black market oil, especially when purchased under a prescription.
When we refer to "retail" we mean physical stores and government-sanctioned websites that sell cannabis products. There are more and more retail stores opening up across the country, and these can be convenient places to buy licensed cannabis products, including CBD oil.
In some provinces the stores are run by the provincial government, similar to alcohol. Examples include BC Cannabis Stores and Cannabis NB. In others they are run by commercial enterprises that are licensed by the provincial government. Examples here include Co-op Cannabis and Tokyo Smoke. Some provinces are also selling cannabis products directly from their own government-run websites, such as Alberta Cannabis.
Buying cannabis and CBD products via the medical route involves getting a prescription, registering with a licensed producer, and ordering on-line or by by phone.
On the surface it might seem like the added inconvenience isn't really worth it. But for many people it most definitely is. Here are some things to think about.
Retail products can be up to 30% more expensive than buying direct from a licensed producer via prescription. You can’t claim retail purchases as medical expenses for tax reporting and insurance purposes, and you could end up spending (wasting) money on products that aren’t appropriate for you.
Health & Safety
You may have certain health conditions or be on certain medications that require careful supervision when using cannabis, if not actually precluding it as an option. Staff at retail outlets are prevented (by law) from providing any health advice.
Also, most products in retail stores are geared toward the recreational user and have higher amounts of THC, the component that causes intoxication. (Medical uses for cannabis typically involve much lower amounts of THC.)
Without medical advice, you may spend a long time finding an appropriate product and dose—if you don’t give up early in the first place.
Prescribed patients have access to all products from all licensed producers. Retail stores can only carry what’s available to them from the provincial government distributors. Also, stores can—and do—run out of products from time to time.
Rights & privileges
A medical prescription provides additional rights and privileges, such as workplace accommodation (with conditions), tenant rights, and—depending on local laws—consumption in public spaces.
While retail offers great convenience, if you are treating a medical condition your best bet is to involve medical professionals.