Medical hashish has been legally available to Canadian patients since 2001, and extra broadly by way of licensed retailers since 2013, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a comparatively difficult system to navigate.
Not like different prescribed drugs, medical hashish is just not prescribed in any respect, however quite its use is permitted 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 unbiased however should be compensated by a share of gross sales from the licensed producers or retailers they refer their sufferers to.
Because of this, sufferers might discover themselves licensed 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 break up their authorizations between two or extra suppliers, or they’ll transfer their authorization papers from provider to provider in sequence to pattern completely different wares from completely different suppliers. However till lately, it was troublesome for sufferers to benefit from the type of retail expertise leisure shoppers do, one characterised by selection and selection.
Canada’s 2 greatest ‘medical marijuana’ marketplaces defined
Your native pharmacy gained’t be allotting ‘medical marijuana’ any time quickly, however a brand new mannequin is rising. This mannequin is finest exemplified by medical markets akin to Medical Hashish by Buyers, Shelter Market, and to a lesser extent, CannMart, with all three providing an array of merchandise from a number of LPs.
That can assist you decide if these markets are appropriate on your medical wants, we despatched Buyers, Shelter, and CannMart the identical questions, and have condensed Buyers’ and Shelters’ solutions under. Representatives for CannMart, which runs on an identical mannequin (albeit with fewer listed merchandise than Buyers and Shelter) didn’t reply to our questions, however you may study extra about them here.
Craft vs. large title
Shelter Market is owned by the licensed producer AgroGreens, however the firm gives 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 imagine that entry to quite a lot of merchandise and value factors to go well with a affected person’s diverse wants is useful, so we’re working laborious 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 give attention to small-batch and micro growers creates what Polard calls “a boutique apothecary-style menu that includes a spread of high quality and area of interest merchandise.” It’s an method that hasn’t gone unnoticed by sufferers and trade insiders, who ceaselessly take to Twitter to reward Shelter’s merchandise.
Medical Hashish by Buyers
“Apart from 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 way of their medical hashish journey,” says April Brooks, model supervisor for Medical Hashish by Buyers (MCbyS), noting that being a subsidiary of Buyers Drug Mart Inc. means providing “a model sufferers know and belief.”
That big-brand power and the assets it represents have seen MCbyS associate with College Well being Community and a number of 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 Buyers: A side-by-side comparability
|Shelter Market*||Medical Hashish by Buyers*|
|Merchandise||Over 137 product SKUs and rising||Over 196 product SKUs and rising|
|Manufacturers carried||11 completely different licensed producers, plus two in-house manufacturers||Over 26 licensed producers and 13 accent manufacturers|
|Exclusives**||Cake by Habitat (flower); sure alternatives 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 on account of COVID-19 obtain a 20% low cost. Seniors obtain a ten% low cost|
|Delivery||Free transport on orders over $100; $15 transport for orders beneath $100||Free on all orders; categorical and precedence mail accessible at commonplace charges. Identical-day supply within the Higher Toronto Space accessible on some orders|
|Gross sales and reductions||25% off all first orders and a devoted clearance part with decreased 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 duty||Plans are within the works says a rep, however having simply launched within the spring of 2020, it’s too early to share info.||Mother or father firm Buyers Drug Mart Inc. helps a number of girls’s well being initiatives and charitable organizations, elevating and donating $9.8 million by way of the LOVE YOU by Buyers Drug Mart program in 2019.|
**Unique to medical markets; a few of these merchandise could be discovered at leisure retailers.
How can Canada’s medical markets enhance?
“Corporations like Buyers Drug Mart and Shelter Market have allowed sufferers to seamlessly buy merchandise from quite a lot of producers by way of a single level of entry,” says Jonathan Zaid, affected person advocate, hashish trade knowledgeable, and founding father of Canadians for Honest Entry to Medical Marijauna (CFAMM, now generally 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 info, like full itemizing of components for vapes, full terpene profiles for flower, and patient-specific advocacy assist on insurance coverage protection can be nice steps for potential enchancment,” he says.
Zaid would additionally prefer to see extra give attention to environmental sustainability, with firms eschewing black packaging (which can’t be recycled in most municipalities) and shifting 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 great factor, it may be intimidating for brand spanking new hashish sufferers. “It’s essential for all producers to satisfy sufferers the place they’re at to make sure they really feel assured in shopping for and consuming the merchandise which will work finest for his or her signs,” he notes. “With so many merchandise accessible, this turns into a extra advanced job to efficiently resolve and requires a patient-centric method.”