Posted September 14, 2018 by Jana Hepbun

How Will Legalization Affect Medical Patients

As many Canadians wait in untethered anticipation for the long-awaited debut of legalized adult use cannabis, others are simply wondering how this massive, country-wide change will affect their own lives. In the years that medical cannabis has been legal, many patients have come to rely on it for an improved quality of life. However, with recreational cannabis entering the arena, patients have some serious questions – will there be enough supply for medical patients? Will they still have the same support from their healthcare professional they did before? How will the tax impact the cost of their medication? Is there anything else they need to know?

One of the biggest concerns we hear from medical patients is around supply.

Consistent supply has long been a challenge in the medical space – adding in the increase demand from the adult-use market has many patients wondering whether licensed producers will focus on stockpiling for recreational users and not leave enough for patients who use it as medicine?

While we cannot speak for each licensed producer offering medical cannabis products, we do know that some of them are allocating a targeted amount specifically for their medical divisions. If you have concerns about your current LP, we encourage patients to reach out to their respective customer care teams to inquire about their plan to ensure they have a consistent supply for their medical patients moving forward. If you are a GrowWise Health patient, please feel free to reach out to our Patient Care team and they would be happy to assist you in these inquiries.

All of these changes have some patients wondering if it makes sense to simply buy their cannabis with the rest of the recreational users. After all, with medical cannabis you have to buy online and with recreational you will be able to walk into a store and purchase your products right then and there. While no one will prevent a medical patient from purchasing through the adult-use stream, it is important to remember a few things. Those with specific conditions have their medication usage tracked by their healthcare provider. Physicians and cannabis clinics are more knowledgeable on both the medical conditions and ailments and the types of cannabis strains, dosages and consumption methods that may work best. It is also important to keep in mind that cannabis retailers and their frontline staff will be limited by the new regulations on the information that they can provide to customers. While they may be knowledgeable on the products, they will not be able to answer questions about your specific condition, dosing, contraindications and other health related concerns you may have.

In terms of taxes, as of now it will not matter if you purchase recreational or medical cannabis, as the government plans to tax both.

Unlike other prescription medications, cannabis is already subject to sales tax. Following the full implementation of the Cannabis Act on October 17th, cannabis – both medical and adult-use – will be subject to an additional 10% excise tax. This applies to all cannabis products with the exception of CBD oils that are under 0.3% THC. Currently, the Canadian government has discussed exploring options for establishing a rebate program which would retroactively reimburse taxes spent on medical cannabis.

In addition, we expect many places to become more diligent about monitoring and regulating public consumption of cannabis.

As a medical patient, you may be allowed to use your cannabis in places where non-medical users may not. For example, medical cannabis can legally be smoked or vaporized in public, as long as it is a location where public tobacco use is also allowed. Oils and edibles for medical purposes only are allowed anywhere.

Of course, as the full legalization of cannabis for adult-use is still forthcoming, we cannot say for sure what else may or may not change for medical patients. We can agree that there will be much uncertainty during the next few months and possibly beyond that. However, GrowWise is committed to helping each patient in the best way we can, so if you have any additional questions please reach out to us and we will discuss in more detail. Please contact us at patientcare@growwisehealth.com or call our toll-free patient hotline at 1-844-456-1515.

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