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Medical Marijuana: What to know

In August 2016, Health Canada introduced the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). The regulations allow Canadians who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by their health-care practitioner reasonable access to the drug. This means that your physician may prescribe you cannabis for medical use – also known as medical marijuana – and that you are entitled to procure it from an approved supplier or to grow it (in limited quantities) yourself.

But it’s not as simple as just asking your doctor for a prescription. Physicians are bound by the law, by standards set out by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, and by best practice. Here is what you need to know.

Physicians must follow the rules

Physicians must only authorize the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the context of a bona fide doctor-patient relationship, and only when they are in direct, face-to-face contact with their patients. In other words, you’ll need to make an appointment to visit your physician in their office.

Licensed producers only…

There’s a very specific procedure for procuring cannabis from a licensed producer. You will need to see your physician and obtain the proper documentation before placing your order.

…unless you grow your own

But remember, you’ll need to meet certain terms and conditions, and register with the government.

More information is needed

Researchers are still gathering information about the potential health benefits of cannabis. In fact, in January 2017, the Health and Medicine Division (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report called The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. It found conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective treatment for only a handful of conditions, while also finding that there was no or insufficient evidence that they were effective for many more, including symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, ALS and Huntington’s disease.

Be mindful of your lungs

Health Canada officially recommends against smoking marijuana, and for good reason; marijuana smoke contains many of same the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, and smoking can make managing dosage difficult. If possible, seek out alternatives such as sprays, lozenges or suppositories.

Remember, this blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and appropriate treatment options. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on

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