Medical hashish has been legally available to Canadian patients since 2001, and extra broadly by licensed retailers since 2013, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a comparatively difficult system to navigate.
Not like different prescribed drugs, medical hashish shouldn’t be prescribed in any respect, however quite its use is allowed by a health care provider. Not essentially your physician both, as many GPs are still hesitant to advise on cannabis for therapeutic uses.
It’s an odd system that has led to the emergence of specialised clinics the place sufferers depend on these healthcare suppliers to authorize an allowance of hashish direct from a licensed supply.
A few of these clinics are subsidiaries of licensed producers, whereas others are impartial however should be compensated by a proportion of gross sales from the licensed producers or retailers they refer their sufferers to.
In consequence, sufferers might discover themselves approved to purchase from a single medical hashish supplier. And since most licensed producers (LPs) solely promote their very own merchandise (or merchandise from their subsidiary manufacturers), on the finish of the day, sufferers on this state of affairs are restricted in alternative.
There are methods round these limitations, after all. Sufferers can cut up their authorizations between two or extra suppliers, or they’ll transfer their authorization papers from provider to provider in sequence to pattern totally different wares from totally different suppliers. However till not too long ago, it was troublesome for sufferers to benefit from the type of retail expertise leisure customers do, one characterised by selection and selection.
Canada’s 2 greatest ‘medical marijuana’ marketplaces defined
Your native pharmacy received’t be allotting ‘medical marijuana’ any time quickly, however a brand new mannequin is rising. This mannequin is greatest exemplified by medical markets akin to Medical Hashish by Customers, Shelter Market, and to a lesser extent, CannMart, with all three providing an array of merchandise from a number of LPs.
That will help you decide if these markets are appropriate on your medical wants, we despatched Customers, Shelter, and CannMart the identical questions, and have condensed Customers’ and Shelters’ solutions beneath. Representatives for CannMart, which runs on an analogous mannequin (albeit with fewer listed merchandise than Customers and Shelter) didn’t reply to our questions, however you possibly can be taught extra about them here.
Craft vs. huge title
Shelter Market is owned by the licensed producer AgroGreens, however the firm provides merchandise from quite a lot of licensed producers.
“Shelter Market is dedicated to placing the wants of sufferers first, and a giant a part of that’s entry,” says Shelter’s advertising supervisor Gill Polard. “We consider that entry to quite a lot of merchandise and worth factors to swimsuit a affected person’s different wants is helpful, so we’re working exhausting to supply an increasing vary of high quality choices.”
Craft producers accessible at Shelter embody North 40 Cannabis, Canada’s first licensed micro-cultivator and micro-processor; Gnomestar Craft Cannabis, providing small-batch, indoor-grown craft hashish; Habitat, identified for using time-consuming conventional drying and curing methods; and family-owned Verte West’s small-batch, hand-trimmed merchandise.
All this concentrate on small-batch and micro growers creates what Polard calls “a boutique apothecary-style menu that includes a variety of top of the range and area of interest merchandise.” It’s an method that hasn’t gone unnoticed by sufferers and business insiders, who often take to Twitter to reward Shelter’s merchandise.
Medical Hashish by Customers
“Except for serving to sufferers entry quite a lot of manufacturers and codecs with just one medical doc, we additionally work with cannabis-trained pharmacists to assist sufferers by their medical hashish journey,” says April Brooks, model supervisor for Medical Hashish by Customers (MCbyS), noting that being a subsidiary of Customers Drug Mart Inc. means providing “a model sufferers know and belief.”
That big-brand vitality and the assets it represents have seen MCbyS accomplice with College Well being Community and several other LPs in what Brooks calls “a groundbreaking real-world proof examine” designed to help create more accurate quality standards for medical cannabis products. Brooks additionally notes that MCbyS was fast to behave within the early days of COVID-19 in Canada, launching the primary emergency compassionate care program and together with free transport for all sufferers.
Shelter and Customers: A side-by-side comparability
|Shelter Market*||Medical Hashish by Customers*|
|Merchandise||Over 137 product SKUs and rising||Over 196 product SKUs and rising|
|Manufacturers carried||11 totally different licensed producers, plus two in-house manufacturers||Over 26 licensed producers and 13 accent manufacturers|
|Exclusives**||Cake by Habitat (flower); sure choices from Gnomestar Craft Hashish and North 40 Hashish (flower and pre-rolls) and in-house model Farmstead, which collaborates with North 40 and Verte West||Rho by Avicanna; Cortalex by Cardiol Therapeutics; FlowrRx by Flowr; Nuance by The Valens Firm; BioU Uspray by Radient Applied sciences; Dosist|
|Compassionate pricing||Purchasers incomes lower than $30k/yr, or these on authorities incapacity help obtain a 15% low cost. First responders obtain a ten% low cost||Sufferers incomes lower than $30k/yr or who’re experiencing monetary misery because of COVID-19 obtain a 20% low cost. Seniors obtain a ten% low cost|
|Transport||Free transport on orders over $100; $15 transport for orders below $100||Free on all orders; specific and precedence mail accessible at normal charges. Identical-day supply within the Better Toronto Space accessible on some orders|
|Gross sales and reductions||25% off all first orders and a devoted clearance part with diminished pricing. Gross sales each couple of months.||Seniors obtain 20% off orders on the primary Thursday of each month. MCby S runs month-to-month gross sales, in addition to one-day flash gross sales|
|Company social accountability||Plans are within the works says a rep, however having simply launched within the spring of 2020, it’s too early to share data.||Father or mother firm Customers Drug Mart Inc. helps a number of girls’s well being initiatives and charitable organizations, elevating and donating $9.8 million by the LOVE YOU by Customers Drug Mart program in 2019.|
**Unique to medical markets; a few of these merchandise will be discovered at leisure retailers.
How can Canada’s medical markets enhance?
“Firms like Customers Drug Mart and Shelter Market have allowed sufferers to seamlessly buy merchandise from quite a lot of producers by a single level of entry,” says Jonathan Zaid, affected person advocate, hashish business knowledgeable, and founding father of Canadians for Truthful Entry to Medical Marijauna (CFAMM, now often known as MCC, or Medical Cannabis Canada). He stresses that whereas each firms have “stable reputations for customer support” there’s nonetheless room to develop.
“Additional product data, like full itemizing of elements for vapes, full terpene profiles for flower, and patient-specific advocacy help on insurance coverage protection can be nice steps for potential enchancment,” he says.
Zaid would additionally prefer to see extra concentrate on environmental sustainability, with firms eschewing black packaging (which can’t be recycled in most municipalities) and transferring away from single-use disposable vaporizers, that are additionally troublesome and costly to recycle.
Lastly, he notes that though product selection and selection is finally a superb factor, it may be intimidating for brand new hashish sufferers. “It’s essential for all producers to fulfill sufferers the place they’re at to make sure they really feel assured in shopping for and consuming the merchandise which will work greatest for his or her signs,” he notes. “With so many merchandise accessible, this turns into a extra advanced process to efficiently clear up and requires a patient-centric method.”