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Why Medical Marijuana Is Still Important After Legalization
The arrival of legalization on October 17, 2018, significantly changed the way that Canadians purchase marijuana. The increased accessibility of marijuana has left many Canadians wondering if the medical cannabis system is still necessary. However, it is important to be aware that the medical cannabis system has its own purposes and merits that continue to make it worthwhile.
Canada’s successful medical marijuana system has been a global model that has helped other countries to implement their own medical cannabis systems. One of the most important contributions that the medical marijuana system has made is the ability to treat an extensive cross-section of patients and conditions. The wide range of conditions that medical cannabis is able to treat has been instrumental in simplifying treatment options for Canadians.
The push for marijuana to be seriously considered as a medical option has led to astonishing and life-altering results for people suffering from an array of symptoms and conditions. For instance, CBD oil allows children with previously untreatable epileptic conditions to reduce or eliminate their symptoms, and live normal, happy lives. Furthermore, medical marijuana has been instrumental in improving the quality of life of cancer patients, who suffer from a range of side effects from treatments, such as pain and nausea.
Moreover, the success that the medical cannabis system has enjoyed has motivated researchers to continue studying the medical properties and uses of the plant. This constant stream of new research continues to validate and confirm the usefulness of marijuana and has opened the door for many more potential uses for medical cannabis. Legalization has opened the door for more complex marijuana research, as well as research on the usefulness of individual cannabis products rather than just the plant as a whole. As a result, researchers are now looking at ways in which specific products like capsules, tinctures, or concentrates are able to treat specific conditions like arthritis or anxiety. This research will surely lead to more effective ways for patients to benefit from the cannabis plant and the medical marijuana system.
Without the medical cannabis system clearly demonstrating how effective, safe, and enjoyable the marijuana plant can be, recreational legalization would have never happened. The elimination of the medical cannabis system would delegitimize the medical applications of marijuana, and shift focus to the recreational system as the primary vehicle of consuming marijuana. Getting rid of the medical marijuana system will fundamentally change the way in which Canadians understand marijuana. Furthermore, this shift has the potential to derail the course of promising medical research currently being undertaken, in favor of research focusing on maximizing profit from recreational use.
The medical cannabis system ensures that Canadians who need it most, always have access to marijuana. The product shortages experienced by recreational dispensaries immediately after legalization demonstrate why it is so important to maintain a separate supply system that ensures medical patients can acquire their medicine through a medical marijuana dispensary. Following legalization, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) released a statement urging the government to continue the medical marijuana system as a way to ensure that all patients have access to their preferred medicines. This sentiment has been echoed by numerous doctors who have come out of the woodwork to express their belief that patients who need medical marijuana should be able to access it through a medical marijuana dispensary that specifically serves their needs, rather than through the recreational dispensary network.
In addition to access, Canada’s medical marijuana system also gives patients financial assistance in acquiring their medication throughout the year. Medical cannabis can be declared as a legitimate medical expense on yearly tax returns. Moreover, medical cannabis is also covered by numerous insurance companies operating in Canada. Insurance providers such as Sun Life and Green Shield Canada have decided to offer medical marijuana coverage for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, HIV, arthritis, and pain from cancer treatment side effects, among others. By contrast, recreational cannabis is not eligible for any kind of tax deduction or insurance coverage. For more information on how you can claim medical cannabis as a tax-deductible expense, please take a look at the section of this page that deals specifically with tax returns and deductions.
Medical marijuana did not become come into existence as the first step toward a recreational system in Canada. Rather, it was implemented to serve the specific needs of the Canadians who need it. These needs continue to exist, as does demand for medical cannabis that satisfies those needs.
What Will Marijuana Legalization Change For Medical Marijuana Patients?
Absolutely nothing. You can continue to order medical cannabis from your preferred medical marijuana dispensary without worry.
Who Is Eligible For Medical Cannabis in Canada?
On August 24, 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) came into effect, changing the ways that Canadians could access medical cannabis. These regulations made acquiring medical cannabis easier by facilitating the approval process. This was done by reducing the process to a doctor’s decision based on patient diagnosis instead of requiring patients to obtain a license from the federal government.
In order to qualify for medical cannabis, patients must have proper documentation confirming their diagnosis from their health care practitioner. Here at Shiva Buzz, eligible health care practitioners include family or walk-in doctors, nurse practitioners, doctors of Chinese medicine, or naturopaths. Additionally, our medical marijuana dispensary also honors memberships from other dispensaries in Canada.
In order to qualify for medical marijuana under the ACMPR Canadians must:
However, exceptions can be made for the required age limit. Since the story of Charlotte Figi made international headlines in 2013, medical marijuana usage and research have extended into treating children. According to a Global News report, almost half of Canadian pediatricians did not know that they could prescribe medical cannabis to children, and 39% did not know that they could prescribe it to youth.
What Medical Cannabis Patients Need to Know About Tax Returns in Canada
Legalization has made cannabis widely and easily accessible for Canadians. However, medical cannabis patients should know that there are still many advantages to purchasing their medication from a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. One of these advantages is the ability to claim medical marijuana as a medical expense on your yearly tax return.
Since September of 2015, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has allowed medical cannabis patients to include medical marijuana purchases as a tax expense. The only three conditions are that purchases must be made on a prescription basis, that patients must provide receipts as proof of purchase, and that product must be purchased from a legally licensed medical marijuana dispensary.
The CRA allows medical marijuana patients to claim both cannabis and seeds as medical expenses. The CRA calculates deductible medical expenses by looking at an individual’s total income, and at the total amount of money spent on medical expenses within the past year. In order to calculate the total deductible, 3% of your total yearly income is deducted from the total amount of medical expenses claimed. The total of this calculation will be your deductible for the year.
If you buy medical cannabis from a licensed and legal medical marijuana dispensary and would like more information on how tax deductions for medical cannabis work, please visit the CRA’s website.
What Should I Know About Medical Marijuana In The Workplace?
As more Canadians have obtained obained access to medical marijuana, employers have been forced to recognize it’s importance and adapt their organizational policies accordingly. The implementation of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) has federally mandated employers to recognize medical marijuana in the workplace just as they would any other prescription drug.
However, this does not mean that employees can simply use cannabis in the workplace as they see fit. For instance, under the Ontario Health and Safety Act, employers are responsible for taking every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of their employees. That means that medical marijuana is not permitted in situations where an employee who is under the influence of the drug might place other employees in danger of harm.
Safety standards, and even zero tolerance policies, must be rationally connected to the to the performance of the job, must be adopted and applied honestly and in good faith, and must be reasonably necessary to accomplish the work. According to provincial regulations, employers are expected to accommodate medical marijuana in the workplace until the point of ‘undue hardship’. This means that employers are not allowed to prevent their employees from using medical cannabis in the workplace unless it seriously affects their ability to perform on the job, or endangers others in the workplace. Employers have previously attempted to remove medical cannabis users from specific positions only to find themselves challenged in court, and subsequently forced to accommodate the needs of the employees in question.
Employers are by and large expected to make reasonable accommodations for medical marijuana users just as they would for any other disability or prescription drug. However, employees should be aware of the way in which marijuana may affect their ability to perform their job. While they are afforded some leeway, employees are expected to perform their jobs at a high level, unrestricted by the impairment caused by marijuana.
What You Should Know About Travelling With Medical Marijuana In Canada
Medical marijuana patients can travel domestically with their prescribed product as long as they follow certain rules. Most importantly, patients are permitted to carry a maximum quantity equal to the lesser of their prescribed monthly limit, or 150 grams. Moreover, it is also permitted to travel with a maximum of 100 ml of liquid cannabis product. All marijuana products must be safely stowed away in a sealed, airtight package that will fully contain their scent. Additionally, patients should make sure to carry the proper documentation for their cannabis on them at all times in case they are required to show it.
Legalization has led to new rules and regulations allowing Canadians to travel with recreational or medical marijuana. When flying domestically, Canadians are permitted to carry a maximum of 30 grams of marijuana with them but are not allowed to consume any of it while they are in the air.
When it comes to car travel, medical marijuana patients need to be aware that new regulations implemented after legalization have changed the ways in which cannabis can be carried and possessed in vehicles. These rules differ from province to province, so it is important to be aware of how they may change when crossing provincial lines.
For instance, in most provinces, including Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia, marijuana must be stored in a sealed package and out of reach of car occupants at all times (meaning not in the glove box or center console). Additionally, consuming marijuana in vehicles is prohibited nationwide. Some provinces may have more strict rules surrounding impaired driving. For example, in Ontario, young drivers will be subject to a zero-tolerance policy that could see them lose their license and face stiff financial penalties for driving under the influence.
Canadians should always be careful to leave their marijuana at home if traveling internationally. Even if you are traveling to a state or country that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana, you will be subjected to federal or regional laws that may or may not permit you to legally carry cannabis.
THC v.s. CBD - What Canadians Need to Know About Medical Marijuana Products
Medical Cannabis patients in Canada should make sure to know the differences between the range of products that are offered by their preferred medical marijuana dispensary. Most marijuana products (even plant buds) rely on two different cannabinoids for their effectiveness. The two most significant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is a psychoactive compound that is responsible for the ‘high’ that is typically associated with consuming cannabis. THC achieves this effect by stimulating a release of dopamine in the brain, resulting in the euphoric, uplifting sensation that marijuana is known for. In more specific terms, THC affects the brain’s reward center by binding to CB1 (Cannabinoid 1) receptors in the brain so as to elicit this release of dopamine.
When it comes to medical cannabis, THC has numerous benefits that allow it to treat a wide range of conditions. THC has been known to induce sleepiness and hunger while mitigating anxiety, depression, and pain. THC has been clinically proven to treat conditions such as:
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. It does not produce any kind of mind-altering effects that may affect sobriety. In fact, it even works to block the high produced by THC by binding to the CB1 receptor so that THC is unable to do so.
CBD has been a hot topic in medical research over the past few years. This is because CBD has been proven to be clinically successful in the treatment of a wide range of physical and mental conditions. As more research is completed, more uses continue to be found for CBD. From treating everyday stress, to lifelong anxiety, to seemingly untreatable epileptic conditions, CBD has blown scientists away with its multitude of uses and it’s success in clinical trials.
CBD has been clinically proven to treat conditions such as: