The federal government pledged cannabis legalization when they were voted in during the October 2015 election. Now that their term is almost up, the government is trying to ensure cannabis becomes legal before they leave office in 2019. Delays have already pushed legalization past its original July 2018 date, although reports now suggest legalization could occur in August.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001. The recreational marijuana legalization proposed by the government is going to impact the industry one way or another. What’s on the horizon for medical cannabis in Canada?
Will Medical Cannabis Disappear?
Some people have been concerned legalization will destroy the medical cannabis industry. Users will no longer require authorizations, but instead will be able to legally obtain cannabis for recreational or medical use.
While there are some concerns people will take advantage of this and overuse cannabis when it’s not medically necessary, others are seeing much more positive impacts on the industry.
One positive impact has been the decision to keep the system of licensing producers. This way, the government can keep track of who is producing how much cannabis at any given time. They can also regulate the product with this system. Medical cannabis patients can be assured the products they’re purchasing still meet standards.
Given this, it’s unlikely legalization is going to kill the medical cannabis industry. In fact, it might even make it stronger.
Access to CBD Products
The new system of legalization won’t provide access to CBD products, which are produced for medical purposes. In fact, there will likely be little demand for these products outside of the medical cannabis industry, as CBD doesn’t create the effects most recreational users want.
As a result, those seeking medical cannabis and CBD products will still turn to medical cannabis producers, even after marijuana legalization. You simply won’t be able to find these products at a store aimed at recreational users.
Some producers plan to remain in the medical cannabis business without expanding to service recreational users. This is partially because they specialize in serving this market already. Another reason is they often grow niche strains.
Most recreational users will only be interested in certain strains, particularly indica strains. Many medical marijuana patients look for other strains, including hybrids and sativas. While you may be able to find some of these from recreational producers, they may not carry or specialize in every strain.
The medical system will still allow patients access to niche producers in addition to those producing for recreational users.
Pricing and Insurance
Another reason the medical cannabis industry is unlikely to go away has to do with money. Most medical producers use compassion pricing, which lowers the cost of their products for those who need it for medical reasons. Some private insurance programs offer coverage for medical cannabis.
Contrast this with the recreational market. Most producers may try to charge top dollar for their products, over and above the tax the federal government has proposed to levy on recreational cannabis.
Insurance companies aren’t likely going to foot the bill for recreational cannabis either.
The looming legalization laws will impact the medical cannabis industry in many ways, but the sector isn’t going anywhere.