Medical Cannabis Frequently Asked Questions
Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Various medical uses were described 4000 years ago by the Chinese emperor Shen-nung in his medical book Pen-ts’ao Ching. Cannabis was mentioned as a medicine in the susruta of India before the 8th century A.D. Today, uses for medical cannabis include treatment of pain, nausea, lack of appetite, sleeping disorders, auto-immune diseases (MS) and glaucoma.
What is medical cannabis?
Medical cannabis refers to the use of the cannabis plant as a doctor-approved herbal treatment. Medical cannabis should be produced from plants cultivated under controlled conditions and should be meticulously inspected to ensure that it is clean and safe for medical consumption.
How does medical cannabis work?
The active components of cannabis (termed cannabinoids) mimic the effects of chemicals (endocannabinoids) that naturally occur in the human brain and body. These chemicals act as ‘signals’ or ‘messengers’ that help control how the body functions. So, the use of cannabinoids to mimic these chemicals may affect different symptoms and how the patient experiences them.
How is medical cannabis different from recreational cannabis?
Medical cannabis is only available when approved by a Doctor for people with specific medical conditions. Medical cannabis should be inspected for cleanliness and quality.
Recreational cannabis occurs in numerous forms and may be adulterated with a number of other substances. There is no standardization and users have no guarantee of potency or content.
Is medical cannabis legal?
Yes! If you are Canadian, the only way you can legally obtain your medicine is through the Medical Marihuana Access Division (MMAD) with an MMAR license. We rely on the regulations set by the Government of Canada to guide us. You can review the most up to date Marihuana Medical Access Regulations at the Department of Justice website. For more information on how to get licensed visit our Membership page.
Sensible Cannabis Use
Like any medicine, cannabis can be misused. Excessive or inappropriate use can contribute to problems including sleepiness, overeating, and time management issues. Due to the political climate surrounding cannabis use research, clinical studies have produced widely conflicting conclusions about the true benefits and potential side effects of cannabis use. Always listen to the advice of your doctor and use good judgment when using medical cannabis. These guidelines help identify ways of using medical cannabis in a positive way.
- Adults should use cannabis as part of a healthy, balanced, and responsible lifestyle.
- The decision to use cannabis should be made freely, and not as a result of social pressure.
- Cannabis users should be well informed about its effects on themselves and others. These effects include both legal and health risks and personal consequences.
- Never use cannabis as an excuse for antisocial or irresponsible behavior.
- Cannabis users should model and reward responsible use, particularly with new users.
- Develop sensible cannabis use limits for your self based on personal, health, situational, and cultural factors. It is important to be objective about your personal cannabis use and listen to the constructive advice of others.
- Avoid cannabis use that puts you or others at risk, such as when driving, at work, or in public places. Remember, personal use of cannabis is still illegal under federal law, and penalties are stiff.
- Use of cannabis by children is inappropriate and should be discouraged.
- Cannabis use should contribute to, rather than detract from, a patient’s health, well-being, creativity, work, relationships, and social obligations.
Methods of Consumption
Medical Cannabis can be ingested in many different ways. Effects may vary slightly with different methods of consumption. The length of time it takes for the medicine to take effect, and the length of time that the medicine remains effective, can vary greatly with different methods of consumption.
The most common ingestion method has traditionally been to smoke the dried flowers and/or leaves of the cannabis plant. Dried cannabis can be smoked in a pipe, rolled into a cigarette (or ‘joint’), or smoked using a water pipe (commonly called a ‘bong’). Water pipes were once thought to filter out some of the carcinogens in cannabis smoke, but studies suggest that there is no significant health benefit to smoking from a water pipe over other smoking methods. Regularly smoking any plant material can have a negative impact on pulmonary health, and therefore Peace in Medicine recommends patients use vaporizers or edible forms of medicine whenever possible.
A vaporizer is a device that allows the patient to separate the cannabinoids (the therapeutically effective chemicals in cannabis) from the plant material without burning. This is possible because cannabinoids vaporize (turn to a gaseous form that can be inhaled) at a temperature lower than that required for burning. As a result, the patient can inhale without taking in the burned plant material that constitutes “smoke”. While scientific studies are lacking, it is commonly believed that vaporizing is a healthier form of ingestion than smoking cannabis. Vaporizing is believed to mitigate many if not all of the negative effects of smoking. It tastes better as well. If you are used to smoking your medicine, you may think that you aren’t “getting anything” at first when you vaporize, because vapor does not burn the throat. Even though the vapor doesn’t burn, it is still quite effective. Use caution and wait a few minutes to feel the full effects before taking more.
Edibles are foods cooked with butter or oil that has been infused with cannabis. Edible cannabis usually takes longer to take effect (20 minutes to an hour or more) and the effects generally last longer than smoking or vaporizing. Edibles taken on an empty stomach will take effect significantly faster than if taken immediately following a meal. It is difficult to know how strong an edible medicine will be, and because it can take an hour or more to feel the full effects, it is easy to over-medicate. Use caution! If you have taken your medicine in an edible form, wait at least an hour to be sure you know how strongly it will affect you before taking more.
Any food that contains butter or oil can be made with cannabis-infused butter or oil, but the most common edibles are cookies, brownies, cakes, or candies.
Oils and Honeys
Cannabis infused oils can be used directly in foods, consumed in capsules, or mixed with honey to be used in tea or on other foods.
A tincture is a concentrated form of cannabis in an alcohol solution. Tinctures can be taken under the tongue or mixed into water or other beverages.
What types of Cannabis are there?
There are hundreds of strains of cannabis – you can see some of them here – Click here
Who should not take medical marijuana?
You should not take medical marijuana if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning to get pregnant, or if you are allergic to any cannabinoid. Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other disease of the airways. If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse or dependence, or if you have a history of a serious mental disorder, such as schizophrenia, consult your physician.
Where should I store my medical marijuana?
You should store marihuana in a cool, secure place. Keep it out of reach of children.
How do you take medical marijuana?
Smoking is not the recommended method of administering medical marihuana; however, most of our clients smoke their medication. For patients concerned about the toxic and carcinogenic substances in smoke, there are other options such as oral ingestion and nonsmoking inhalation
How often should I take marijuana and how much should I take each time?
Talk to your doctor about your dosage. He or she will give you a daily limit which will be printed on your MMAR card. According to Health Canada, for medical purposes most individuals use on average one to three grams of dried marihuana daily. If you are just starting to use marihuana, you should try a small dose and increase it slowly until you reach a comfortable daily dose
Where do I find the Health Canada application forms?
All the appropriate application forms can be found on our MEMBERSHIP PAGE.
How can I find out the progress of my application? What is taking so long?
Please note that we are NOT Health Canada. We work to connect patients, doctors and growers under the Health Canada MMAR system. As such, we are unable to directly comment on the status of your application.
Many of our patients are experiencing the same frustrations you are, running into longer than expected wait times. Health Canada is understaffed and overwhelmed with patient applications, although in recent months have hired more staff and taken other steps to decrease the wait times.
Your first step is to contact Health Canada and inquire about your application: 1-866-337-7705
If you have tried contacting them with no response, we recommend contacting your local MP to get them involved. Your vote is important to them, and it may help you get a response from Health Canada.
How long is the application process?
Health Canada is currently taking longer to process applications due to an increase in the number of applications and a lack of government funding. They should acknowledge receipt of the application within 3-5 weeks of receiving it and will indicate if any of the required information is missing. Applications from patients with terminal conditions will be given priority for processing. Processing time for the application will vary depending on the nature of the applicant’s medical condition, and whether all of the necessary information has been received, this can take up to 7 months. Find out more about the application process in our MEMBERSHIP PAGE.
Does medical marijuana help with my medical condition?
Medical Marijuana is not for everyone but a growing number of people are finding relief through its use.
The general symptoms marijuana helps to alleviate are:
- chronic pain
- muscle spasms
- loss of appetite
- sleeping disorders
- side effects from neurological conditions
If you suffer from a condition that creates one or more of these uncomfortable conditions, you might benefit from medical marijuana. Find out more about the health effects and if you think it’s right for you, learn how to apply.
What strain is best for my disease?
It is important to remember that often medical marijuana is not used to treat a specific condition but rather to grant relief from symptoms or side effects.
People with a variety of different conditions but who all suffer from chronic or temporary pain usually find a strong indica works best. Positive side effects of a strong indica are increased appetite, nausea fighting, sleeping aid.
People who suffer from neurological, nerve or emotional problems, glaucoma, nausea, IBS, Crohns disease, early stages of MS, fibromyalgia, arthritis, anorexia usually find an indica mixed with sativa ( a hybrid ) or a pure sativa works best. Sativa doesn’t have the strong knock out pain fighting properties and usually help with motivation and mobility.
With so many different hybrid strains available today it is difficult to recommend a specific one but chances are we have strains available that has the right pain fighting and energetic qualities to suit your medical needs. Everyone is different and we recommend if you are trying a new strain to start with small doses.
What are some alternatives to smoking marijuana?
Although people typically think of smoking marijuana, there are many safe alternatives that can have different and longer lasting effects.
- Olive Oil
What are the side effects of using medical marijuana?
The side effects of using medical marijuana can vary greatly by person and strain. Everyone is different and we recommend if you are trying a new strain to start with small doses.