Trying Medical Cannabis
Taking the First Step
Every year, most of us make a checklist of the changes and improvements we intend to make with the arrival of this symbolic fresh start. Despite our good intentions, we often begin with an auspicious start, only to revert into bad habits as the year progresses. People dealing with health issues are no different. Whether it is a change of diet, exercise, or lifestyle, it takes more than good intentions to be successful—it requires action.
Sometimes the first step, initiating action, is the hardest. Philosopher Lau Tzu proclaimed the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Using cannabis medicinally—whether through the medical system or the recreational system—has never been easier. Cannabis is showing effectiveness treating an expanding number of conditions. These include a wide range of pain related conditions, arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, many mental health conditions as well as conditions such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy and a great deal more. Cannabis often achieves results where conventional pharmaceuticals have limited or no success. Making cannabis even more attractive, medicinally, is a fact. It is not physically addictive, is impossible to fatally overdose on, and has few side effects or negative interactions with other medicines.
Although people can access CBD and THC products from the Ontario Cannabis Store, without extensive research, one would be hard pressed to understand how to effectively develop a successful regimen to use them to treat a medical condition. At our clinic we guide patients through every step of the medical process, supervise and advise on an ongoing basis—to helpfully escort each patient through the process and onto wellness. Our company, unlike some in the industry, charges no out-of-pocket fees. The doctor portion of the visit is covered by OHIP or the person’s provincial healthcare plan. The counselling portion is funded privately by donation from an industry leading company, who believes it is vital to successful treatment and should be accessible to everyone without cost. Make sure any company you approach is up to this standard.
Entering the medical cannabis system has never been easier. Direct doctor referrals are still the most popular route. Your doctor or specialist sends in a referral with supporting medical documents outlining the diagnosis, history and past treatment for your condition and we book an assessment with one of our experienced MDs. Our doctor consults with the patient and ascertains whether medical cannabis can benefit the patient’s affliction. If so, our MD writes a prescription for medical cannabis. Next, the patient meets with one of our cannabis counsellors.
We set up a custom-tailored treatment plan for the patient. This includes recommending what cannabis medicine to use and the best form for the individual’s needs (dried flower, oral oil or pill). We carefully instruct the patient on dosing and frequency. The patient leaves with our comprehensive “welcome book”—a compendium of useful information designed to educate both the novice and experienced cannabis user. We then schedule a follow-up visit to continue to work with the patient to ensure continued successful treatment.
For patients who may have doctors who refuse to refer—whether because they are naïve to the benefits of medical cannabis or because they have their wagons firmly hitched to the financial benefits that a relationship with big pharma affords them, patients are now allowed to self-refer. The self-referral process involves filling out an authorization form to allow us to request the patient’s medical records related to the presenting condition. The family doctor has a legal obligation to provide these—regardless of whether they agree with or believe in medical cannabis, or not. It’s your health and your right, as a patient. Once we obtain and screen the records, we book the patient for assessment.
In keeping with our desire to be accessible to as many patients in varying circumstances as possible, we have recently added a new facet to our treatment protocol, “home care”. This allows patients who have mobility issues or need to travel a distance to their nearest location, the ability to pay a nominal fee of $20 and see their doctor over telemedicine from the comfort of their own home. Our hope is to allow anyone in need accessibility to cannabis medicine and professional counselling.
Some people, regardless of convenience, will opt to avoid the medical cannabis path—choosing to try cannabis through the recreational route. If this is your choice and results are positive, you can always decide to enter the medical system at any time, to get better advice on strains, dosing, vaporizing, making edibles, and other options. Bear in mind, medical patients possess specific advantages over recreational users. Some medical cannabis producers offer compassionate pricing to those with limited incomes—as much as 30% off medicine. Medical patients have the option of writing off everything spent on medical cannabis on their income tax returns. Medical patients can potentially carry more cannabis in public and, in some provinces, are the only ones allowed to consume in public. The medical supply is prioritized by most licensed producers and will have much more consistent supply than the recreational market.
New year, new start, new choices. It is said the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour over and over and expecting different results. If your healthcare treatment has fallen short of success or if your pharmaceuticals are ineffective or doing as much harm as good, it’s time to investigate medical cannabis treatment. Over 280,000 fellow Canadians have already successfully joined the ranks of successful medical cannabis users. The number is growing exponentially. Don’t you owe it to yourself and your health to finally get relief? Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Rick Gillman is a medical cannabis patient, consultant, and veteran freelance writer. He is involved in medical cannabis research and breeding projects--creating more effective medicine. He works for Canadian Cannabis Clinics as a Medical Outreach Educator out of the Collingwood, Ontario clinic.