Come October 17, cannabis will be fully legalized in Canada, but there is still a powerful medical program within the country that has been in existence since 2001, and will continue to thrive under the new legalization.

All Canadians can take steps to get their cannabis registration TODAY. Here are a few tips on the process of how to get your medical cannabis card in Canada:

Who is Eligible To Get A Medical Cannabis Card in Canada?

Medical cannabis laws in Canada are regulated by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) program. This allows the decision to use cannabis for medical purposes to be placed and the hands of the patient and his or her physician.

There are currently almost 300,000 Canadians licensed by the federal government to possess and use medicinal cannabis. Medical experts say that cannabis provides a safe alternative to treating a vast array of medical conditions without using pharmaceutical drugs. To be eligible to receive a medical cannabis card, a patient must be monitored by a specialist or family doctor, within the last year, and obtain relevant medical records related to their condition.

Eligible conditions may include pain, chronic pain, asthma, sleep issues, anxiety, migraines, PTSD, and many more. There are a vast number of online resources outlining the science behind cannabis and how it can help manage symptoms and treat disease processes.

Who Decides Eligibility?

A family physician or Nurse Practitioner will access your medical records and decide on your ACMPR program eligibility. Eligibility is based on the professional’s discretion, which is generally based on your diagnosed medical condition.

The First Step: See Your Doctor

The first step in obtaining a medical cannabis card is to speak to your family physician. Your family physician will be familiar with your history and make an informed decision as to whether they feel cannabis will help you. In some cases, patients may run into a physician who is unfamiliar with the use of cannabis as medicine, or simply does not believe in its medicinal powers.

If this happens, be your own advocate. Make a list of therapies and medications you have tried to control your symptoms, indicating which ones didn’t work. Offer some well-researched documentation on the science behind cannabis and why it may help. Be clear with your physician on how your symptoms could be better managed with the use of cannabis. If all of these steps fail to convince your physician that medical cannabis is right for you, there are still clinics who will allow you to self-refer.

The Next Step: Gather Your Records

To obtain a medical cannabis card, the ACMPR professional will need access to relevant medical records related to your condition. They stipulate that the medical diagnosis must not be more than five years old and that you have been followed by a medical professional for at least one year. Contact your family doctor or specialist to obtain your medical records, as a patient you have a right to obtain your records.

Find a “Green” Doctor in Canada

Many online networks assist patients in finding a medical cannabis-friendly physician in Canada. These networks will allow you to gain access to the country’s medical cannabis program through Health Canada. Generally, these networks require three easy steps; Pre-qualify for the program through an online survey, register for an evaluation online (this includes filling out medical history forms and providing related records), and finally, consult with a physician who will evaluate your condition to determine your eligibility to the program. It is common to meet with the physician online, via Skype, or over the phone. If you live in a remote area, don’t worry, medical cannabis specialists are easy to access, using telemedicine technology.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Obtaining your medical cannabis card will likely take anywhere from a month to 6 months, depending on who your prescription comes from. This number may vary due to patient lists and how long it takes to gather your medical records. Be prepared when you delve into the process. Speak to your family physician first and get a referral, the process stays much shorter this way.

You’re Approved

So, you’ve been approved, now what? Most networks have onsite counselors and cannabis educators who will advise patients about cannabis use and assist with strain selection. They will also work to match you with the best Licensed Producer (LP), for which in Canada there are over a hundred. Most medical cannabis is obtained via online ordering.

You may also be required to have regular follow-up visits with your prescribing physician. This process is in place to ensure you are getting the best medicine to manage your symptoms, and adjustments can be made.

Can I Legally Grow Cannabis With My Medical Cannabis Card?

Yes, you can. Once you have received your Medical Cannabis card, you are eligible to grow five indoor plants (or two outdoor plants) for every one gram of dried cannabis you are authorized to consume. This information will be stated in your registration certificate.

Who Do I Contact to Get Started?

There are a vast number of clinics available online to assist you in getting your medical cannabis card. It can be difficult to navigate the information and find the clinic that is right for you but hang in there, you’ve started the process!

Most online cannabis doctors have a well-laid out website that will guide you through the steps above. All information is gathered and stored online and will be available when you meet your “green” doctor. Find a clinic with a layout you like. Below we have compiled a list of resources that you may want to check out.

Namaste MD

https://www.namastemd.com/

With Namaste MD, speak privately with a healthcare professional in the comfort of your home, to receive and renew your prescriptions. It’s never been easier, faster or more discreet.

Although recreational cannabis will be available in Canada come October 17, International Highlife encourages Canadians to take advantage of the legal privileges they have had under the ACMPR since 2001.

Body Stream Medical

https://greendoctornetwork.com/

Begin the process by contacting a Body Stream Medical Clinic and they will email you all relevant forms to be filled out. If your doctor is willing to refer you to the clinic it will speed up the process, and they will contact you after receiving your referral. This is a clinic that accepts self-referrals.

Greenleaf Medical Clinic

http://greenleafmc.ca/

This clinic is purely online, and you are not required to travel to a clinic to meet your doctor. The website is easy to navigate and will put you at ease through the entire process. This clinic was voted #1 in the 2014 Canadian Cannabis Awards.

Canni Med

https://www.cannimed.ca/

CanniMed is another online resource with a great website. All forms are filled out online, and once your eligibility is confirmed you will book an appointment to meet your doctor.

Lyte Resources

https://lyteresources.com/

Lyte Resources has a physical office in Scarborough, Ontario, but the process is completed online. Gather your medical documentation and book an appointment with one of their green doctors. This is a clinic who accepts self-referrals.

National Cannabis Access Canada

http://nationalaccesscannabis.com/

National Cannabis Access Canada is a unique Health Care service provider that specializes in prescribing medical cannabis and provides members with ongoing education and care.  We work alongside Health Canada and Licensed Producers to help to qualify patients to gain access to their license, as well as provide resources and support on using medical cannabis in their day-to-day routine.