Your Introduction to Medical Cannabis
Welcome to MMC!
If you’re considering medical cannabis treatment or have started treatment and want to find out more, this guide is your introduction to everything you need to know. From what cannabis is, how you can take it, its effects, benefits and dosing.
A Brief History of Medical Cannabis in Canada
In 2001 the Canadian government launched Canadian Medical Marihuana Access Regulations allowing patients across the country access to medical cannabis. Then, in 2016, it was made possible for Canadians to acquire a Grow Your Own Licence, legally permitting patients to grow their own cannabis from home. This came with the launch of Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, which it remains as to this day.
2018 marks a milestone for cannabis use in Canada, as recreational cannabis was legalized. Leading to wide distribution and access to cannabis products. Significant, in-depth research on the medical benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids, like THC and CBD. And now, Licensed Producers are taking their knowledge of cannabis to create innovative, lab-tested products for both medical and recreational cannabis needs.
It is easier now than ever to access medical cannabis, with the help of a clinic like MMC, and you don’t even need a referral from your doctor to do so.
Medical Cannabis 101: The Basics
So, what is cannabis?
You may’ve heard it called by other names – marijuana, weed, pot, reefer, dope – but cannabis is the scientific name for the plant.
Like corn, lettuce and peas, cannabis is an annual plant, which has two sexes, male and female, but it’s the flowers (buds) of the female plant that are harvested, trimmed and cured then inhaled or ingested as dried flower or extract.
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the compounds found in cannabis. These little cannabinoids are the active ingredients which give cannabis its medicinal benefits. There are many different cannabinoids and each produces its own unique effect when consumed. Let’s talk about the two you ought to know about, THC and CBD.
What is THC?
You may well have heard of this cannabinoid, THC, as it’s one of the most well-known. It’s characteristic for its psychoactive effect, producing the ‘high’ feeling people talk about. It can induce sleep, ease pain and increase appetite and mental acuity to help patients feel better.
What is CBD?
CBD is the Yin to THC’s Yang, this, equally important cannabinoid, is non-intoxicating and known for its anti-inflammatory effect. Medical cannabis products with high levels of CBD are noted for helping patients with a spectrum of conditions including anxiety, depression, acne and heart disease.
The reason we can feel the effects of cannabinoids like CBD and THC is because our bodies have a biological system which interacts with these compounds, the Endocannabinoid system.
What is the Endocannabinoid System?
The Endocannabinoid System is biological system, first discovered in the early 90’s by researchers investigating THC and its effects. This system is made up of endocannabinoids which are receptors and enzymes which regulate sleep, mood, memory, appetite, reproduction and pain sensation. In fact, endocannabinoids very similar to cannabinoids except they’re biological and part of your body! As well as helping our internal functions run smoothly, when we consume cannabis it’s the endocannabinoids which bind to the cannabinoids in cannabis so we can feel their effects.
What are terpenes?
When you consume cannabis, you might be able to taste lemon, cinnamon or clove. You might smell pepper, pine or grass. This is because of terpenes. Terpenes are the flavours and aromas found in of cannabis which give each variety of cannabis its unique flavour. The reason cannabis smells or tastes like something you’re already familiar with is because the same terpenes are found in other plants. You can find high levels of terpenes in mangoes, apples, citrus fruits, spices and hops used to make beer.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect describes unique effects which are produced when different compounds in cannabis interact with each other. Whether it’s between different cannabinoids or cannabinoids and terpenes.
For example, when CBD is consumed with THC people have found they experience less of the undesirable effects of THC like paranoia and anxiety.
The Entourage Effect is something our Patient Advisors and experienced Nurse Practitioners will consider when advising specific cannabis products for medicinal use. To find the effect needed to help relieve each patients’ individual symptoms.
Common Misconceptions of Indica & Sativa
There are three subspecies of the cannabis plant Sativa, Indica and Hybrid (a combination of the Sativa and Indica).
You might see Sativa, Indica and Hybrid varieties advertised to have particular effects when taken. Sativa is sometimes called “energizing, uplifting and best for day time use”. While Indica “relaxes the mind and produces a body buzz suited for night time use”.
While this might be the effect for some people there isn’t actually any scientific evidence to back these claims up.
Ask the Experts
Our experienced Healthcare Practitioners and Patient Advisors are experts and advise our patients based on their knowledge of scientific research to guide our patients towards suitable products, with proven effects.
Popular Product Formats
Cannabis isn’t a one size fits all treatment.
You may find that you want to try a couple of different methods at first, to see which best suits your needs. Here are some of the most popular product formats available:
Method – Inhaling
Dried cannabis flower is available as whole flower or pre-milled. All dried flower products are activated through heat and consumed by smoking or vaping. Smoking is the most popular method because it’s fast acting. However, it isn’t often recommended for medicinal use as it’s harsh on the lungs.
Vaporizers are devices which turn cannabis into vapor instead of smoke. Using a vaporizer is a great alternative to smoking as it has the same immediate effect, without being as harsh on the lungs and are commonly used by long-term medical cannabis users. There are two types:
Loose Leaf Vaporizers
You put dried flower in these devices, which contain a heating compartment, to burn and maintain at a heat before combustion takes place. In these, the dried flower generally lasts longer than if its smoked. Depending on the vaporizer used, you may also be able to save the cannabis after vaping for use in edibles.
Concentrated Oil Vaporizers
Unlike flower, concentrated cannabis oil comes in the form of a cartridge which is then attached to the battery of a vaporizing device. One of the benefits of using an oil vaporizer is that it doesn’t create much smell which makes it a discreet consumption option. Also, there are fewer steps involved than smoking or using a Loose Leaf Vaporizer, since the product is generally bought ready to go.
Methods – Ingesting
Edibles are cannabis infused foods, such as chocolates, gummies, and drinks. Edibles are a brilliant alternative for patients who don’t want to inhale cannabis or don’t like the taste of cannabis, as it’s partially masked by the flavour of these tasty treats. Unlike inhaling, edibles can take a few hours to feel the effects (2-4 hours).
Oils are one of the most discreet methods of taking medical cannabis and are very popular among our patients. Patients can take oils using a tincture, to dispense droplets under the tongue, as spray or taken with food and mixed in beverages. Oils also come in the form of soft gel capsules.
Method – Topical
Topicals are cannabis infused balms, lotions and sprays used for localized swelling, pain and soreness. They’re non psychoactive, which is great for patients who want relief but don’t want to get ‘high’. CBD infused topicals are used to help relieve symptoms such as inflammation associated with arthritis as well as other skin disorders.
Ingesting Vs. Inhaling
So, I can either inhale or ingest my medical cannabis but what’s the difference?
The biggest difference between these two consumption methods is how long it takes to feel the effects of the cannabis when consumed and long the effects last. See the table below to compare.
|2.5mg of THC & CBD
Seconds to minutes
|How Long it Takes to Feel the Effects
|30 mins – 3 hrs
Up to 6 hours
|Up to 12 hours
|Through the lungs
directly into the bloodstream
|How the Cannabis is Absorbed
|From the GI tract
it metabolizes in
the liver before entering the bloodstream
Your Introduction to Dosing
Slow and Steady, Wins the Race
Everyone’s body is different and how you feel the effects of cannabis will depend on your metabolism and the symptoms you’re treating.
When it comes to finding the right cannabis, method, format and dose, trial and error can be part of the process. Our patients sometimes try a couple different options before they find the right one.
This is why we never leave you to figure it out for yourself. We offer support every step of the way. You can book an appointment on our online clinic to speak to one of our experienced Nurse Practitioners, who can provide information about dosing, consumption methods and formats.
We also provide each of our patients with a Cannabis Dosing Diary. This is an important tool to record their treatment dose and its effects.
To get you started, here’s a quick introduction to dosing and what we mean when we say, slow and steady wins the race.
Whether you’re smoking, using a vaporizer or trying a new variety of cannabis, for the first time, we recommend you start slow by taking 1 inhalation and go steady by waiting at least 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, take a moment to reflect, scan your body and observe the effects the medical cannabis is having on your symptoms and record this in your Dosing Diary. Then you can assess if you need to take more.
Continue to go steady, by simply increasing your dose daily over the following few days (DAY 1: 1 inhalation, DAY 2: 2 inhalations, etc.). Continue to do this until you begin to feel the effects are helping to relieve your symptoms.
When you begin to feel that your dose is helping to relieve your symptoms, stop increasing and maintain at this dose. You’ve won the race.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to dosing edibles is that it takes longer to feel the effects than it does when you’re inhaling. When you ingest cannabis, in edibles, oils and soft gels, etc., it can take between 30 minutes to 3 hours to feel the effects.
Remember, start slow, if you don’t feel effects straight away, wait an appropriate amount of time and go steady when increasing your dose.
In addition, the starting dose can vary depending on the type of cannabis in the product. The higher the amount of THC the lower the starting dose tends to be. While the starting dose for a CBD dominant oil is 0.25mL (increased by 0.25mL per day) for 1:1 oils, which contain equal parts of CBD and THC, dosing start at 0.1mL (increased by 0.1mL per day).
When feel the dose is helping to relieve your symptoms stop increasing and maintain at this dose. You’ve found the dose that works for you, you’ve won the race.
Be aware Of Possible Side Effects of Medical Cannabis
We wouldn’t be here today if medical cannabis didn’t help provide the great symptom and condition relief that it does. But since each of our bodies is unique, each of us will react differently to medical cannabis treatment.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of some potential adverse effects of taking cannabis, especially if you are trying cannabis for the first time or are concerned that you’ve taken too much.
Here is a short introduction to the adverse effects, you can experience.
Short Term Effects:
- Increased heartrate
- Slower reaction times
- Impaired coordination
- Dry mouth
- Impaired short-term memory
- Increased appetite
- Respiratory irritation (when inhaled)
Effects of taking too much:
Effects of stopping your cannabis medication:
- Increased Dreaming
- Sleep disturbances
- Appetite changes
- Mood changes
- Upset stomach
Don’t Worry, We Can Help
If you experience any of these adverse effects, don’t worry they will eventually wear off and shouldn’t take a more than a few days or 2-6 hours to do so. If you’ve taken too much, we find that it can help to focus on your breath, stay hydrated and find somewhere safe you can relax.
Remember, our online clinic operates 24/7 to book an appointment with you’re a Nurse Practitioner to discuss the effects of your medical cannabis. You may also call our Patient Advisor team. We are always happy to help.
Do I need a referral?
No, we do not require you to have a referral to obtain a medical cannabis prescription. We do recommend reaching out to your family physician to discuss medical cannabis, and we’re happy to send reports to them if requested.
Is there a fee?
Our services for obtaining a medical cannabis prescription are completely free!
Do I need to come into an office to meet with a Nurse Practitioner?
Your appointment and our white-glove patient services are provided on our virtual platform, or over the phone, depending on what works for you.
How long will it take to get the medical cannabis, from the time I submit an intake form?
We try to make this process as simple and easy as possible, by providing white-glove patient services. Depending on the day you submit your intake form, we should be able to book your virtual appointment to obtain a prescription within a week. Registered with a Licensed Producer (LP) to purchase from can take between 1 and 7 days.
How much does medical cannabis usually cost?
The price and average cost varies based on the producer, strain and form. You can typically expect to pay between $5-12 per gram. Most Licensed Producers (LP) have discounts and special pricing available for low income, seniors and First Responders.
Why do I need a prescription if cannabis is legal?
There are many benefits to being a medical cannabis patient versus self-medicating. Here are a few of our favourite reasons:
- Medical cannabis prescriptions can be covered under insurance (all insurance plans are different, so make sure to check your coverage).
- Medical cannabis can be written off, and is applicable for tax returns.
- Compassionate pricing, discounts for Seniors and other groups are available from Licensed Producers.
- Ordering is all done online, with the products being shipped directly to your door by Canada Post or Purolator.
- Medical cannabis products have a wider variety of CBD dominant products available and often have other rapid on-set formats not available in the recreational market.
- By obtaining a medical cannabis prescription, your treatment will be supervised by one of our specialized Nurse Practitioners. If any of your practitioners want to be kept updated on your treatment, we’re happy to send them informed with reports.
- Medical cannabis patients often report a reduction in other prescription medications like opioids, etc.
For More Information
Follow the link to find a comprehensive List of Our FAQ.
Our Top Tips to Stay Safe When Using Medical Cannabis
Tip 1: Want to inhale? Vaporize, don’t smoke!
These days using cannabis doesn’t have to mean smoking. Smoking is harsh on the lungs so vaporizing is the perfect alternative format.
Tip 2: Taking other medication? Let us know!
Tip 3: Taking medical cannabis? Avoid Alcohol.
If you are taking other medications, let your Nurse Practitioner know. These medications might interact with your medical cannabis treatment and create unwanted effects.
We recommend that you don’t consume alcohol while taking medical cannabis as its effects can magnify each other and cause discomfort and inebriation.
Have a question? Speak to one of our Patient Advisors! They’re always happy to help. Our office hours are 8AM-6PM Monday – Friday.