Pharmacists are reporting its harder for medical users to access the market

Published Jul 31, 2019 01:06 p.m. ET
iStock / Oleg Malyshev

Medical cannabis users are having a hard time filling their prescriptions. The medical marijuana customer has no option but to purchase the medication that licensed online distributors have prescribed them. With the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2018, the recreational user has choices of where to purchase their cannabis.

Issues with the availability of cannabis for medicinal use

Health Canada is open to letting us know that there are fewer than 100 distributors who can sell directly to the patient. Currently, federal and provincial legislation prohibits any pharmacy from being able to dispense medical cannabis in any form.

The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) along with several other groups are actively lobbying the provincial government to amend the rules. This would allow the pharmacist to not only to have an input in the growing field but to be able to protect the patient in a better, informed manner and assist with accessibility issues.

Unlike the recreational cannabis users, the medical marijuana users have little choice in how to obtain the medicine needed for the health concerns they have, and the legalization of recreational marijuana throughout Canada has done nothing to assist the medical cannabis users in obtaining their medicine.

By today's numbers, it is estimated that there are over 350,000 medical marijuana patients in Canada. The OPA and the medical cannabis consumer, believe that the playing field should be leveled when talking and implementing issues about medical marijuana availability.

One in four of the medical marijuana users indicates that it is harder for them to access their medication since recreational cannabis became legal.

A recent joint study, conducted by Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana with the Canadian Pharmacists Association and the Arthritis Society, indicates that 64% of medical marijuana users have under-dosed their prescribed medicine at times. This is commonly due to supply issues and also the cost of medical marijuana. These are two issues that have been noticed since legal marijuana came on the scene.

Since marijuana legalization, it has sadly become harder for the medical user to access medicinal cannabis.  The well-established means that have been used for years to obtain medical marijuana have proven to be harder to locate than recreational marijuana. Many patients are turning to the illegal black market for the needed medicine that they are having trouble obtaining legally. A significant concern for the medical marijuana consumer and the pharmacies are the unregulated sources that the patient is using for their medicine and are also getting medical advice from non-medical personnel. The black-market dealer is not equipped to provide answers to health concerns that the patient may have.

iStock / Oleg Malyshev

76% of medical cannabis users are under the pretense that there are no adverse side-effects from the combining of other medications with cannabis. This is not information that the black-market drug dealer has. So, the unavailability to access medical marijuana can have more significant consequences on the patient than having to wait for your medication to arrive through the mail.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association is ready and able to assist the medical marijuana user in accessing the correct information needed to ensure the safe use of legal, medical marijuana, as the government seems to have forgotten about the thousands of medical marijuana patients who need and deserve better access to their medication when they legalized recreational cannabis use. The lack of accessibility could be cleared through a change in legislation.

Medical marijuana users have been patiently waiting for the delivery of their medicine through the mail for too long. The government has the ability and the right to provide the same access to the recreational user and the medicinal user.

People are turning to medical cannabis to combat numerous health conditions. Perhaps this will help medical marijuana users to have choices on where they can purchase their prescriptions. They should have other ways besides the only legal manner today, which is online. The current online system does not work efficiently.  The medical marijuana consumer is faced with the dilemma of using underground black-market sources to obtain their needed medications.

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