How does Canada’s legalization of cannabis affect the medical cannabis patient? One Canadian’s Perspective

How does Canada’s legalization of cannabis affect the medical cannabis patient? One Canadian’s Perspective

By Sandy Nicoll.

Some call it reckless, others see it as trailblazing, but no matter how you look at it on Oct. 17, 2018, Cannabis became a fully legal commodity in Canada. After nearly 100 years of prohibition, Canada has ushered in an entirely new industry which has wide-ranging implications for nearly every facet of society. That includes everything from policing, health care, justice, politics, business, culture and of course the medical cannabis patient. Some are postulating that cannabis has become Canada’s business story of the year.

In thirty three states in the U.S. citizens now have access to medical cannabis. In Canada, medical cannabis has been legal since 2001 and on October 17 of this year Canada became the first G7 country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. So, if you’re a medical cannabis user like myself or just curious, you’re probably wondering how legalization of recreational cannabis has or will affect the medical cannabis patient in Canada. First, let’s start with some facts. According to the Government of Canada, as of September 2018 there are currently just over 342,000 medical cannabis users in Canada. Wow, who knew! A poll conducted by Forum in 2016 found that over 5 million adults in Canada use recreational cannabis at least monthly and this number was expected to increase by 19% after legalization. $4.34 billion in revenue is predicted from legal cannabis sales across Canada in 2019, over 4 times more than the illegal market. To give you an idea of just how substantial the recreational cannabis industry is in Canada, on the first day of legalization, Delta 9 Cannabis in Winnipeg, MB. sold more than $300,000 worth of recreational cannabis and more than $736,000 over the first week, according to Delta 9’s CEO John Arbuthnot. Statistics Canada says sales in Canada over the first 2 weeks totalled $43 million.

Months before recreational legalization there was a heightened anxiety felt by some medical cannabis users that they wouldn’t be able to obtain their medicine as easily and unfortunately this turned out to be true. According to James O’Hara, of the advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Cannabis “It’s actually more than a supply issue. Really it’s something of a health crisis now”. Canadians with cannabis prescriptions are emailing his organization upset by “out of stock” signs at their regular suppliers websites. “Unfortunately, there are no regulations in place to actually guarantee supply for the medical market”, O’Hara said.

Medical cannabis patients I have spoken with since legalization say they are having a lot of issues obtaining their medication. Some had the foresight to order a bit extra before legalization but you can only order so much because of limits placed on your prescription. Even an acquaintance who works for a licensed producer (LP) said he was having difficulty obtaining his medical cannabis. He thinks the LP’s are being seduced by the much larger recreational market and have prioritized shipments to that sector. However, Allan Rewak, who is the director of the Cannabis Council of Canada (which represents 85% of the country’s cultivators and medical suppliers), says the opposite is true. “If anything we’re seeing adult consumer-use cannabis being repackaged and reallocated to ensure medicinal demand is met first”. Rewak says a combination of factors have led to difficulties with the medicinal supply.

  • Demand for medical cannabis increased dramatically prior to Oct.17 depleting inventory
  • Lack of transparency and communication between LP’s and their medical patients contributes to anxiety

Depending on who you talk to and which LP they are using you get different responses. One of the LP’s I use has been better than most at keeping their patients in the “loop” when it comes to communicating shortages and supply issues and has had neither issue for longer than a few days. The other LP I order from is the complete opposite. They have been in and out of stock since before legalization and it’s not getting any better. Some of their products will be in stock for a day or two then they will be out of stock of some products for weeks or even months. This makes it very stressful for the medical cannabis patient. One of my friends said “It’s the not knowing if or even when my medicine will be available that’s so frustrating and downright scary”. Medical cannabis has helped a lot of people with many health issues including myself and it is frightening to know the medication you are taking and that’s working so well for some might not always be available.

Even though it might be difficult to buy recreational cannabis in Canada right now it’s the medical cannabis patients who are really suffering. We need to have a steady and safe supply and we’re not seeing that yet. I pray it improves soon and will keep you informed as the story unfolds.

This has been One Canadian’s Perspective.

Sandy Nicoll lives in Winnipeg, MB., Canada and has a B.Ed. and a B.Hum.Ec. She has had fibromyalgia, arthritis and hypothyroidism for over 30 years. She is finally living her life with a semblance of “normalcy” by using medical cannabis to treat some of her conditions. She lives with a wonderfully supportive hubby and her therapy cat Chloe (who’s using CBD oil for her own geriatric issues with some success).

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Authored by: Sandy Nicoll

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Ronald Janson

Thanks for sharing this post. I am interested in this topic. Government chef George Morrone’s task as head chef at Redwood Park within the Transamerica Pyramid is handled as if he had been an athlete being traded to a different workforce.

Sandy E Bell-Murray

On a related note, medical marijuana is the only prescription medication in Canada that’s subject to the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax. Now, with the legalization of pot, medical users have to pay an additional $1 per gram or 10% of the retail price, whichever is greater.

I would love to see the government exercise a little compassion and not apply these taxes to prescriptions. Of course, it would be so much better if medical marijuana was covered by drug insurance plans so it’s not out of reach for so many who need it. Here’s a link to a good article on the subject, if anyone is interested:

Jody Hoffman

I have a question for you, why are you not just buying the recreational marijuana? It’s legal now for anyone to walk in and buy it, isn’t it cheaper than the medical? It is in the states. People who have the cards can’t afford to buy medical marijuana or CBD oil. It’s cheaper to buy recreational weed and make my own tincture.

Mike L. Wallace Jr.

The No. #1 Condition for Medical Marijuana should be having access for daily consumption to prevent the development of new illnesses (including Cancers). In other words : Recreational Marijuana. Cancers & other Debilitating illnesses are caused by generations of Cannabinoid Deficient Parenting. Brought about as a direct result of Marijuana Prohibition.


It sounds like the “cart was put before the horse” in Canada, somewhat. I am not completely familiar with the existing regulations for medical cannabis or for recreational use and the acquirement thereto. It is GREAT to see Canadians finding “some” relief for their individual medical needs. It is ONLY my opinion but, it seems to me until the bugs are ironed out, the medical cannabis users should be prioritized in obtaining cannabis for medical issues. While I live in the USA in a state that has VERY limited usage of cannabis for medical issues, it is alsocan conservative state and I am sure that the monetary (profit) issues will have very specific regulations for even being able to get cannabis for those that may wish to use it. NC must do something to help patients with lifetime, continuous pain medication needs as the DEA is “running the show” now as far as opiate medication prescribing for even long time patients with years and decades of documented, beneficial, medically necessary needs as the last option at living any kind of quality of life. I realize that it is complicated to change antiquated (Jeff Sessions) thinking about cannabis use here but, patients with health issues, especially pain management issues are suffering and we feel as if we are being tortured purposely and abandoned with zero interest from our lawmakers and “policy” makers. The cost to dot/gov to “allow” pain management patients to use opiate medication IS staggering and those that do not experience continuous severe pain can not comprehend what it is like to live in pain. Those of us with long time, documented success with opiate medication use are truly not only living in pain, it is causing hopelessness but, maybe cannabis will be the answer for many.. Maybe Canada can lead the way to a better life at least for some. Thanks for the info Ed.


I have never understood talk of cannibis on npr in the past but now it is our only choice. Sadly, take your pick it is opiates or cannabis, benzia and other prohibited items. You cannot be stonned 24 7 but then again what good is 90 mme? The truly sick are gone either way.

For a civilization that is as advanced as ours claims to be I have an extremely hard time accepting the fact that so many are so stupid. Whether in Canada or the United States the government is supposed to protect its own people. Yes, this includes caring for the sick. Seems to me that the United States is torturing their people while Canada is having a free-for-all. One that has led to mistreating their sick as well. These events will definitely go in the history books, just makes me wonder what will follow. The last story posted on the National Pain Report received a comment stating that this particular person had spoken with an anesthesiologist. They stated our government was doing this on purpose and gave the reason. This is one of the stories that will haunt me as several others have. Over the years and months I’ve read several times and have often thought to myself that this is comprable to Hitler and his antics. At least he cared about his “own”. Yes, in a very bizarre way but at least it seemed as though he cared. Trump and now it seems Canada as well don’t even care about their “own”. We’ve done everything we know to possibly do. We’ve traveled here, we’ve traveled there. We’ve written our congressmen, senators, etc. to no avail. We’ve filled out questionnaires. We’ve staged rallies. We’ve had doctors and soldiers speak on our behalf in Washington as well as in a court of law.
Now what?
In the meantime I continue to wish each of you peace and hope, if you can find such. May God bless and comfort each and everyone of you. I truly pray for all, day in and day out.
PS. I still want to hear from Bernie. Please let us know if you’re okay. Please let us know how your birthday went. Thank you Bernie.


I have tried medical marijuana several times, and lately CBD oil at least four times from different sources and different strengths and haven’t yet found any relief for any of my symptoms, especially, pain.
It has helped to keep me sleeping longer hours though and that’s somewhat helpful. Morphine has always been the ticket and this 90mme is my biggest downfall. Which led me to search it out to once again after becoming legal in my state, this CBD oil, only to find out the only stuff really works is with a bit of THC in it, which, by the way, my doctor won’t then prescribe the morphine anymore due to my health insurance won’t treat me while I’m using medical marijuana. Anyone come across that one yet? So if you use magical marijuana and it has THC in it, and you test in your contract for opioids, you won’t get your opioids. But marijuana is legal, right? Yeah right.

A key factor that will affect both recreational and medical users, going forward, is that producers and vendors are subject to consumer protection laws that regulate the sale of every other food and drug product found in stores. One simply cannot slap a label on imported Florida orange juice and call it “medicine” in Canada, nor claim special medical properties for one’s own brand of imported orange juice. Untrue and unproven claims made to promote sales of a product, will land the promoter in court.

Two cannabis researchers presenting at the California Cannabis Expo last October, pointed out that in Nevada, over 200 brand-named “strains” were being sold. Genetic analysis revealed that only 6 genuine strains were being sold. Each seller was giving them diffeeent names to drive traffic to his store. Top marks for chicanery went to the guy who bought a gallon of paint thinner, added one drop of cannabis oil to it, repackaged it in tiny bottles and labeled it “Tincture of Cannabis”. The stuff was about as toxic as paint thinner, but consumers were putting it in their food. Alarmingly, no Nevada law prohibited what the shyster was doing. Canadians are safer from such deceptive marketing now. The US is playing catch-up. California enacted the first consumer protection laws on cannabis, taking effect January 1st.