Recreational cannabis will soon be legal in Canada. While medical cannabis has been legalized for a while, there will be changes to note as the new law takes effect.
What do you need to know about cannabis legalization?
With the Cannabis Act passing into law, medical marijuana patients need to know about how the law affects them, including their rights, authorizations, limits, insurance, and how it could impact their supply. The ACMPR may need to be updated, but for now, the medical cannabis system is remaining in place.
1. What Will Become of Medical Marijuana Patients?
Some people have speculated the legalization of recreational cannabis through the Cannabis Act will eliminate the medical market in Canada. So far, legislators have aimed to keep the medical marijuana program in place.
Do medical marijuana patients really need separate considerations from the recreational market? The answer is a resounding “yes.” The needs of patients using medical cannabis can vary widely from the demands of the recreational market, and the medical market won’t disappear.
2. Will Patients Even Need Authorizations?
Authorizations for medical marijuana patients will still be important. This is because patients often need specific doses and are authorized to carry specific amounts.
These amounts can exceed the current personal limits outlined in the Cannabis Act. The Cannabis Act allows Canadians to possess a certain number of grams for personal use. Having more than the legal amount could result in fines and other penalties.
Medical cannabis patients will need to keep their authorization documents up to date to ensure they can legally carry the right amount.
3. Is It a Good Idea to Buy from a Recreational Store?
The opening of the legal recreational cannabis market means people will be able to purchase cannabis at government-operated stores.
A licensed producer is still the best source for patients. Why? The producers will cater more to the medical market. This is important in terms of the strain and quality of the cannabis, ensuring patients have access to what they need. A licensed producer will give patients access to a larger range of products, some of which may not be accessible at a recreational store.
4. Will Medical Cannabis Be Covered by Insurance?
The legality of cannabis in Canada seems to have spurred some insurance companies to re-evaluate their policies. While recreational cannabis won’t be covered, it seems likely more private insurance policies will offer coverage for medical marijuana.
Sun Life kicked off the move towards this trend in February 2018, announcing up to $6,000 per year per patient covered under a group benefits plan. Other insurance providers are likely to follow suit.
The provinces may also re-evaluate their policies about coverage for medical marijuana. Currently, medical cannabis is not covered under any provincial drug plan.
5. What Will Happen to Prices?
Many medical marijuana patients have been concerned about the pricing of cannabis from the start. Without coverage, prices for cannabis are often too high for patients who could benefit from access to this treatment option.
There has been concern that the legal recreational market will push prices even higher. Recreational users demand more product and will often pay a higher premium for the products they want. In turn, this could force prices higher. Medical marijuana patients are concerned they could be priced out of the market.
This is why insurance is so important. If prices are pushed higher by the recreational market, more people will need assistance to access this treatment option.
The legalization of cannabis in Canada will have many different impacts on medical marijuana patients. While the program is remaining in place, there will be significant changes in the months to come.