How to get a medical marijuana card in Ontario, is it still worth it?

Published Jan 29, 2019 03:14 p.m. ET

 While on October 17th, 2018, Canada officially legalized marijuana for recreational use, it has been legal for card holding Canadians to purchase marijuana for medical use since 2001. Now that it is legal for everyone to buy and possess cannabis, many are wondering if a license is still worth obtaining, and if it is, what is required for one.

There is no straight answer where licensing for medical marijuana is concerned. Only a doctor can fill out the necessary documents to get approval. That makes it difficult for many Canadians struggling with either no family doctor or one that has a different view on the subject. Luckily there are several well-established agencies that can help in obtaining your license. Unfortunately, going outside of a family physician comes with a fee. To get true legal licensing, paperwork must be filled through Health Canada. Anyone claiming to print you one immediately after applying is a scam.

Qualifying for a medical license

In order to qualify for a license, you must show a medical need for it. Several websites boast lists of common ailments that are virtually guaranteed approval. These lists are conditions that are most likely to benefit from medical marijuana.

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Back/Neck Issues
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • Sleeping Disorders
  • PTSD
  • Automotive Injuries
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • HIV
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Colitis
  • Arthritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Nausea
  • Chronic Pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Anxiety

Once you obtain a medical provider willing to assist you in filling out the paperwork, it's nothing more than a waiting game. Approval can take up to eight weeks many of those who apply any wonder if the wait is worth it to obtain a license.

Benefits of obtaining a medical marijuana license

While the work, cost, and anticipation of waiting around for a medical card may not be worth it to everyone. There are many perks to having a license that often goes unmentioned.

Access to licensed producers - Once you obtain a legal license for medical cannabis you are provided with a list of licensed producers you may legally purchase through. The majority even offer the option to ship to your door allowing you to shop from the comfort of your home. Most of the suppliers will be small-scale growers who provide some of the lowest prices you will ever see and tend to sell more substantial amounts, up to a quarter of a pound at one time.

Human rights issues - While there isn’t any case presently, we could find to point to, a person ingesting and possessing medication is a human right that is protected under the umbrella of human rights. This is most helpful for those who have landlords or bosses who are trying to restrict their use. Aside from that protection, for the most part, even those who hold a jaded view of cannabis will leave you alone if you mention you are licensed.

Compassion pricing - Most licensed medical marijuana dispensaries offer what is called compassion or compassionate pricing. Usually, compassion pricing is a discount that is given to those who can prove financial hardship. This is something no recreational dispensary currently puts into practice and a perk only available to those who possess a license.

Knowledgeable advice - When marijuana is prescribed if you are lucky and your doctor takes “refresher” courses and keep up to date on what chemical compounds are most beneficial and the reasons why it can help you learn to choose a strain that will be most likely to benefit your specific condition. They can recommend a schedule for ingestion which helps take some of the guessing out of trying to treat yourself.

Restrictions on medical marijuana patients

Unfortunately having a license isn't all good. There are restrictions on what you can do legally with any medication obtained through licensed producers. Just like with any prescribed drug it is illegal to alter it in any way, making it difficult for those who may prefer edibles or oils over smoking. The other downside is the lack of available products. Government licensed medical marijuana dispensaries also have a very sparse selection. Generally, handpicked by whoever is in charge, for whatever they consider being the most useful medicinal strains. Though quality seems to be a focus quantity is definitely lacking.

While it is clear there are many benefits to obtaining a medical marijuana card; there are just as many drawbacks and restrictions. There is no right or wrong answer when asked if you should apply for one yourself. Only you can decide, and your decision should be based purely on personal need and preference.

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