All Eyes on the Future of Medical Cannabis
Education and Advocacy At Aurora, we recognize that legalization is a big moment, but we also know medical cannabis is still a crucial part of our industry’s future.
According to Health Canada, nearly 300,000 Canadians are currently registered as medical cannabis patients. Regardless of those patients’ conditions, each and every one of them would have had to consult with a doctor, identify medical cannabis as a legitimate option, and come up with a personalized treatment plan that fit their specific health care goals.
If current trends continue, the number of registered medical cannabis patients should increase in the coming years. Health Canada reports that in the last year alone, more than 100,000 patients have joined the program.
But the emergence of the recreational adult-use market raises a lot of questions. Patients across Canada — who have always relied on doctors to guide their use of medical cannabis — are wondering, “will anything change for me?”
The short answer is no — the existing ACMPR legislation will be absorbed into The Cannabis Act and registered patients will still be able to order their cannabis products directly from their licensed producers. In fact, licensed producers will facilitate the transfer of medical documents between them, which offers patients more flexibility and a wider range of products to choose from.
Physician oversight is crucial as the industry evolves
However, one thing that could be poised to change is the role physicians play in the medical cannabis landscape. The Canadian Medical Association has suggested scrapping the medical cannabis program altogether, saying that improved adult-use access makes the need for medical prescriptions redundant.
At Aurora Cannabis, we completely disagree with this position. When cannabis is legalized for recreational use, we believe that patients, working together with health care practitioners, will continue to need the support of their physicians.
Consider this — without guidance from a doctor, it would be up to the patient to figure out how to medicate serious medical conditions with cannabis. It’s unlikely that doctors would be comfortable letting patients determine their own treatment plans with opioids or other narcotics in a similar situation. Medicinal cannabis is part of our medical landscape, and it needs to be treated as such.
Doctors are also uniquely positioned to help patients make informed choices regarding their health, based on the patient’s medical history. If physician oversight is left behind as the cannabis industry evolves, that level of care and attention to detail will be lost.
Patients and recreational users are not the same
Recreational users use cannabis for their own personal enjoyment. Patients use cannabis to alleviate debilitating pain, help them sleep, deal with nausea, and more. In many cases, getting high is a side effect that medical patients want to avoid.
Patients consume cannabis differently compared to recreational users, and medical cannabis requires precise dosing and prescriptions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to medical cannabis.
Medical cannabis is also treated as a legitimate medicine under the law, while recreational cannabis is not. In fact, several recognized insurers are beginning to incorporate medical cannabis into their group benefits plans. As well, medical cannabis patients can claim a portion of their annual expenses against their income tax.
Additionally, the chemical breakdown of medical cannabis products versus recreational ones can differ greatly. Oils intended for medical use might have a higher level of CBD, for example, than oils intended for recreational use, which might have more THC. These differences are something that users need to be acutely aware of as the industry evolves.
Looking toward the future
As the world’s largest medical cannabis company, Aurora is committed to providing its patients with the highest standard of product quality, customer service, and affordable pricing, all while reducing barriers to accessibility.
Even as the adult-use market grows, our commitment to you, our patients, will never change. We understand that the recreational market is not a replacement for medical cannabis and we will do everything we can to ensure it stays that way.
For more information, visit auroramj.com.