Holiday Cannabis Cooking Conference

We seem to have forgotten about medical cannabis

Published Mar 14, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / UrosPoteko

Not long ago, people were fighting left, right, and center to get a medical cannabis license, as it was the only way to legally access pot products or cultivate the plants. Demand for this special permission grew so quickly that it soon became a business all on its own, with cannabis clinics on nearly every street corner promising prescription to all paying “patients,” including those with no documented medical condition.

It’s lost its relevance

Now that recreational cannabis holds a legal status, the trend of paid-for prescriptions has died off almost as quickly as it began, with only a select few still looking for documented proof of their medical needs. The idea for physical, medical dispensary access never fully materialized in Canada, and the same holds true in several US states.

You can now find a recreational marijuana dispensary in nearly every big city and town where the law allows, and those places are bustling, bringing in record sales year after year. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a storefront for a medical dispensary, the search is much harder, and even if you find one, the staff and products there might not be the best options on the market for medical patients.

The allure of the recreational dispensary

These days, as long as you’re of legal age, you can find every pot product you could ever need at your local recreational dispensary. They are filled with fantastic options, with some sporting such flair and quality that it's enough to make consumers drool. You can buy edibles, extracts, capsules, beauty products, topicals, flowers, and so much more, and it’s all in one accessible place.

It might be hard to imagine why someone may feel like they need any more than what we have now, but that’s just that excitement talking along with a little bit of misunderstanding. Yes, recreational cannabis dispensaries boast just about every form of cannabinoid going, but they’re missing a few core focuses that are never a priority on the recreational market.

The need for medical specific dispensaries

Medical patients in Canada today can purchase the product directly through a government-approved grower in bulk at market rate, or they can shop through any number of licensed recreational marijuana retail stores. In some cases, a select few pot products can also be accessed through drugstores, but these transactions are limited, and none of what’s available satisfies the need for the following improvements.


Medical patients don’t need casual recommendations on what might work, at least not if they want to succeed with this type of treatment. What they could really use is access to a consultant to act as a sort of guiding hand, a person who could check-in, keep track of progress, and offer scientifically proven advice. Some would say that this is a job more suited for a pharmacist, but most would agree that your average recreational budtender probably isn’t going to be a whole lot of help in this department.

Holiday Cannabis Cooking Conference

The appropriate products

Recreational cannabis consumers come in all varieties, with some choosing to partake more frequently than others, but for the most part, one thing stays consistent with consumers who are toking for fun, and it’s that they want an intense experience. This motivates producers as well as cannabis brands who are catering to the recreational market to produce stronger, more THC-focused options, and that’s not necessarily the solution if you’re looking to treat a condition without a thick veil of euphoria.

Affordable prices

Cannabis prescriptions, which are usually just a simple recommendation, can’t typically be filled through a pharmacy like you would with other doctor-recommended medical treatments. Even when they can, the costs are exorbitant and out of reach for many who could benefit from this gentle, all-natural medicine the most. We need a better-established medical cannabis system that provides affordable access to a wide variety of useful products for verified patients.

Removing the taboo

Though most people know that all different types of customers shop at recreational dispensaries, as it isn’t like there are many other options, some patients fear the stigma that might follow them home if someone they know sees them in such a taboo establishment. This is, unfortunately, just enough of a push to keep many interested patients away from trying it, something that could be fixed with a simple transition over to a medical facility; Perhaps one that even offers a bit more discretion.

Why we can’t stop now

We know full well that the needs of medical cannabis patients are great and that we’re not rising to the occasion, and that’s simply not acceptable. Tending to recreational users is well and good, as they are the backbone of the industry. Still, we need to keep fighting for new, more generous programs that can help us to mainstream cannabis medicine. Until we do, even those who could see life-changing results feel forced to shy away from the opportunity, and we shouldn’t be allowing that to happen.

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Holiday Cannabis Cooking Conference


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