Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada for almost two decades, but with recreational’s entrance into the regulated space last October, rules around accessing medical cannabis changed. So how does a patient go about getting a prescription?
There are two broad-stroke things to do to get the process started: meet with a healthcare practitioner and then register with a licensed producer. The exact guidelines for gaining authorization to medical cannabis can vary from province to province, per the standards of each provincial medical college. Depending on wait times, the process can take anywhere between a few weeks and a year (the time it takes to get an appointment with some clinics sometimes accounts for the bulk of the waiting time).
Kira London-Nadeau, chair of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, says the first step in securing access to medical cannabis is to see a physician (or a nurse practitioner in some provinces) to secure an authorization, which, in essence, is a prescription. A patient authorized by a healthcare provider can access cannabis for medical purposes by buying directly from a federally licensed seller (which operate on a mail-order system), registering with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of cannabis for his or her own medical purposes, or designating someone to produce it for him or her.