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

Not like different pharmaceuticals, medical hashish is just not prescribed in any respect, however moderately its use is permitted 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 unbiased however should still be compensated by a proportion of gross sales from the licensed producers or retailers they refer their sufferers to. 

In consequence, sufferers could 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 scenario are restricted in selection.

There are methods round these limitations, in fact. Sufferers can break up their authorizations between two or extra suppliers, or they will transfer their authorization papers from provider to provider in sequence to pattern completely different wares from completely different suppliers. However till lately, 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 greatest ‘medical marijuana’ marketplaces defined

Your native pharmacy received’t be shelling out ‘medical marijuana’ any time quickly, however a brand new mannequin is rising. This mannequin is finest exemplified by medical markets resembling Medical Hashish by Customers, 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 to your medical wants, we despatched Customers, Shelter, and CannMart the identical questions, and have condensed Customers’ and Shelters’ solutions under. Representatives for CannMart, which runs on the same mannequin (albeit with fewer listed merchandise than Customers 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 presents 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 worth factors to go well with a affected person’s various wants is useful, so we’re working laborious to supply an increasing vary of high quality choices.”

Craft producers out there 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, recognized for using time-consuming conventional drying and curing strategies; 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 top of the range and area of interest merchandise.” It’s an method that hasn’t gone unnoticed by sufferers and business insiders, who ceaselessly take to Twitter to reward Shelter’s merchandise.

Medical Hashish by Customers

Medical Cannabis by Shoppers

“Apart from 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 way of their medical hashish journey,” says April Brooks, model supervisor for Medical Hashish by Customers (MCbyS), noting that being a subsidiary of Customers Drug Mart Inc. means providing “a model sufferers know and belief.”

That big-brand vitality and the sources it represents have seen MCbyS associate with College Well being Community and a number of 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 Customers: A side-by-side comparability

Shelter Market* Medical Hashish by Customers*
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 picks 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 Shoppers 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 attributable to 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 out there at normal charges. Identical-day supply within the Larger Toronto Space out there 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 accountability Plans are within the works says a rep, however having simply launched within the spring of 2020, it’s too early to share data. Mother or father firm Customers Drug Mart Inc. helps a number of ladies’s well being initiatives and charitable organizations, elevating and donating $9.8 million by way of the LOVE YOU by Customers Drug Mart program in 2019.
*Product numbers had been correct on the time of writing, however reps for each firms 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?

“Corporations like Customers Drug Mart and Shelter Market have allowed sufferers to seamlessly buy merchandise from a wide range of producers by way of a single level of entry,” says Jonathan Zaid, affected person advocate, hashish business skilled, and founding father of Canadians for Honest Entry to Medical Marijauna (CFAMM, now often called MCC, or Medical Cannabis Canada). He stresses that whereas each firms have “stable reputations for customer support” there’s nonetheless room to develop. 

“Additional product data, like full itemizing of components for vapes, full terpene profiles for flower, and patient-specific advocacy help on insurance coverage protection could be nice steps for potential enchancment,” he says.

Zaid would additionally wish to see extra concentrate on environmental sustainability, with firms 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 in the end a great factor, it may be intimidating for brand new hashish sufferers. “It’s essential for all producers to satisfy sufferers the place they’re at to make sure they really feel assured in shopping for and consuming the merchandise which will work finest for his or her signs,” he notes. “With so many merchandise out there, this turns into a extra advanced process to efficiently remedy 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 life-style author and editor, and has spent the final three years focusing solely on hashish tales. Discover her on Twitter @devonscoble.

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