Medical hashish has been legally available to Canadian patients since 2001, and extra broadly by licensed retailers since 2013, however it’s nonetheless a comparatively sophisticated system to navigate.

In contrast to different pharmaceuticals, medical hashish shouldn’t be prescribed in any respect, however reasonably 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. 

Consequently, 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 selection.

There are methods round these limitations, in fact. 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 completely different wares from completely different suppliers. However till not too long ago, it was tough for sufferers to benefit from the sort of retail expertise leisure customers do, one characterised by selection and selection.

Canada’s 2 largest ‘medical marijuana’ marketplaces defined

Your native pharmacy received’t be dishing out ‘medical marijuana’ any time quickly, however a brand new mannequin is rising. This mannequin is greatest exemplified by medical markets resembling Medical Hashish by Consumers, 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 Consumers, Shelter, and CannMart the identical questions, and have condensed Consumers’ and Shelters’ solutions under. Representatives for CannMart, which runs on the same mannequin (albeit with fewer listed merchandise than Consumers and Shelter) didn’t reply to our questions, however you possibly can be taught extra about them here.

Craft vs. large identify

Shelter

shelter market medical cannabis canada

Shelter Market is owned by the licensed producer AgroGreens, however the firm affords merchandise from a wide range 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 a wide range of merchandise and value factors to swimsuit a affected person’s various wants is helpful, so we’re working exhausting to supply an increasing vary of high quality choices.”

Craft producers accessible at Shelter embrace 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 spread of high quality 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 Consumers

Medical Cannabis by Shoppers

“Other than serving to sufferers entry a wide range 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 Consumers (MCbyS), noting that being a subsidiary of Consumers Drug Mart Inc. means providing “a model sufferers know and belief.”

That big-brand vitality and the assets it represents have seen MCbyS associate 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 delivery for all sufferers.

Shelter and Consumers: A side-by-side comparability

Shelter Market* Medical Hashish by Consumers*
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 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 on account of COVID-19 obtain a 20% low cost. Seniors obtain a ten% low cost
Transport Free delivery on orders over $100; $15 delivery for orders underneath $100 Free on all orders; categorical and precedence mail accessible at normal charges. Similar-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 lowered 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 data. Father or mother firm Consumers 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 Consumers Drug Mart program in 2019.
*Product numbers have been correct on the time of writing, however reps for each corporations be aware that their choices proceed to broaden. 
**Unique to medical markets; a few of these merchandise may be discovered at leisure retailers.

How can Canada’s medical markets enhance?

“Firms like Consumers Drug Mart and Shelter Market have allowed sufferers to seamlessly buy merchandise from a wide range of producers by a single level of entry,” says Jonathan Zaid, affected person advocate, hashish business skilled, and founding father of Canadians for Truthful Entry to Medical Marijauna (CFAMM, now often called MCC, or Medical Cannabis Canada). He stresses that whereas each corporations 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 assist on insurance coverage protection could be nice steps for potential enchancment,” he says.

Zaid would additionally prefer to see extra concentrate on environmental sustainability, with corporations eschewing black packaging (which can’t be recycled in most municipalities) and shifting away from single-use disposable vaporizers, that are additionally tough and costly to recycle. 

Lastly, he notes that though product selection and selection is finally factor, it may be intimidating for brand spanking new hashish sufferers. “It’s necessary 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 complicated job to efficiently resolve and requires a patient-centric method.”

Devon Scoble's Bio Image

Devon Scoble

Devon Scoble is the Guides Editor for Leafly Canada. Devon has over a decade’s expertise as a way of life author and editor, and has spent the final three years focusing completely on hashish tales. Discover her on Twitter @devonscoble.

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