Getting a medical marijuana prescription might seem daunting at first. Although more Canadians are using medical cannabis than ever before, negative stereotypes associated with cannabis consumption persist. Adding to this stigma is the fact that many doctors are not comfortable writing cannabis prescriptions, and those who do – often referred to as “medical cannabis doctors” – can be hard to find.
So how does one obtain medical cannabis? There are a few different ways to go about this.
Although your family doctor may not be a medical cannabis doctor, they are still able to write medical cannabis prescriptions. The biggest issue that most physicians identify as a hurdle to prescribing cannabis is lack of knowledge about its efficacy for specific ailments. However, you can help inform your healthcare practitioner by learning more about cannabis. Here are some links to studies related to cannabis for medical purposes:
The best advice for talking to your doctor about medical cannabis is to go to your appointment equipped with knowledge and, if possible, scientific studies that you can provide for reference. You’ll also want to bring this form with you, which your doctor or nurse practitioner can fill out to authorize you to purchase medical cannabis from Zenabis. Even with the best preparation, your doctor still may not be willing to write a medical cannabis prescription. Fortunately, there are other alternatives.
So-called “cannabis clinics” have physicians who specialize in writing medical marijuana prescriptions. These medical cannabis doctors tend to be much more knowledgeable about cannabis than a typical GP, and can offer guidance in determining the variety of cannabis, method of consumption, and dosage that may be right for you. Some clinics are open to anyone with a valid medical condition, while others require a referral from your family doctor. One drawback to visiting a cannabis clinic, as opposed to seeing a physician at a general practice, is that they often charge fees for their services which are not covered by provincial health insurance.
For a map of cannabis clinics in Canada, see MarijuanaMedInfo’s list of cannabis clinics (please note, Zenabis has no affiliation with marijuanamedinfo.ca and does not endorse any of the clinics listed on this page). Although these clinics can simplify the process of accessing medical cannabis, they are under no obligation to provide you with a medical cannabis prescription – their healthcare practitioner may determine that cannabis is not suitable for your condition.
Under the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45), the only healthcare professionals who can write medical cannabis prescriptions are doctors and nurse practitioners (NPs). Compared to registered nurses (RNs), NPs in Canada receive additional education and training, and can prescribe medication. If your doctor isn’t willing to write a medical cannabis prescription, and there are no cannabis clinics near you, this is another option you can try. NPs work in hospitals, community healthcare centres and other healthcare facilities. Check out your provincial College of Nurses website to find a NP near you.