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LPs & Dispensaries: What’s the Difference?

Marijuana dispensaries: a hot topic of conversation in the news and social media, over water coolers and on street corners. Some might be surprised that a Licensed Producer is entering the debate with our own take on this exploding phenomena taking place in cities all across the country, but we receive countless calls and emails on the subject – our patients want this information.

At CanniMed we don’t shy away from the difficult conversations and believe that all Canadians interested in cannabis as a medicine deserve to have all of the information needed to make informed decisions.

As the Canadian law stands right now, the only legal way to acquire medical cannabis is through working with a primary care physician to fill out a Medical Document granting the patient access to medical cannabis, which is then filed with a government-approved Licensed Producer. CanniMed is one of the LPs currently licensed in the country. Once approved, the patient receives their cannabis directly from the LP through the mail.

Is this the best way for patients to receive their medicine? Should other storefront options be available? That is currently with Health Canada to investigate and report on.

We encourage all patients to learn the regulatory oversight that is in place within the current system. As Canada’s longest-serving LP, we are bound by a set of extremely strict rules governing our growing facilities, ensuring that our products meet and exceed strict standards for THC and CBD levels, packaging requirements ensuring the products are not easily consumed by children and purity testing to ensure patient’s medicine is free from moulds, heavy metals and other toxins.

Until the regulations evolve to allow different distribution methods with checks and balances in place for all providers of medical cannabis, whether they are dispensaries or LPs, patients can only be sure that their medicine is deemed safe using an LP. Do not read into this that we are against the storefront model, it is simply pointing out a real concern voiced by those who have investigated some products being sold through the unregulated market.

A recent media article from Winnipeg clearly articulates our concern for the health and safety of patients. “Marijuana taken from 15 different independent grow operations was submitted to a lab for testing and came back “unfit for human consumption,” with mould, bacteria, e-coli, salmonella, heavy metals and other toxins.” A great number of our patients have compromised immune systems and are using cannabis as a means to help with related, or unrelated, symptoms. A bacterial infection caused by dirty medicine could add unnecessary complications. That’s why the regulations are in place: to ensure the quality of the medicine that is saving and improving lives.

The work has begun by Health Canada to investigate and announce a broader, more inclusive, medical cannabis system. They have a deadline of August to announce the new regulations.

What the future holds, nobody yet knows. But until the rules change, patients are only protected from both product safety and potential law enforcement if they follow the process as laid out by the Canadian government. It may not be perfect, but it is a stepping stone on the path towards a more evolved system that serves the needs of all Canadians.

We are happy to answer any questions patients, or prospective patients, have regarding the medical marijuana program. We recognize how confusing this can be, especially when you are only just at the beginning of identifying if medical cannabis is a potential option in your care.