Right now, there are 80 licensed producers of medical cannabis approved by Health Canada to choose from.

How do you decide?

Producers currently represent the only legal avenue to access and purchase medical cannabis in Canada.

But oftentimes people get a medical document for cannabis completed by their doctor or health care practitioner and then aren’t informed of what to do next.

As an ACMPR licensed producer, we hope this article arms you with information to help you choose the right provider for your needs.

Because it’s all about you.

When evaluating medical cannabis options, you need to be selfish. After all, it’s your ailment that you suffer from and your quality of life that you’re trying to improve.

So here are four elements to consider when evaluating licensed producers — and if you have any questions, just ask us via the chat in the bottom right corner of your screen.

Service and Support

Ordering medical cannabis for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. How do you register? What do you say to your doctor? How do you choose the right product to try?

It might sound like a lot, but it’s much easier than you think. That’s where a licensed producer’s website and client care team come in.

Many LP websites have a list of frequently asked questions, as well as background information on the company and what they stand for. But picking up the phone and talking to a producer’s support team can really be effective when trying to decide who you should choose.

Make sure you don’t feel rushed and that any questions you ask are answered thoroughly. You should feel comfortable, heard, and taken care of.

Products and Process

When we crowdsourced input for this article, one common response we received was that a licensed producer should be as transparent as possible about their products, growing method, and internal processes.

This includes detailed cannabinoid and external testing statistics for strains, as well as explicit detail about how they grow their cannabis and their quality control process. If you come across organic cannabis, make sure to ask a producer how they define organic.

In any case, you’re looking for as pure of a product as possible, free of any harmful pesticides, chemicals or bacteria, grown in a way that produces consistent results time after time.

Programs and Policies

From pricing and shipping to veterans assistance, it’s important you know as much as possible about a producer’s policies and other programs.

Pricing

With so many different types of medical cannabis available, a wide price range follows. Most dried cannabis strains from an LP range from $8-12 per gram but can go as high as $15 per gram.

Pricing is important for many obvious reasons, but especially when factoring in your specific prescription. A prescription for multiple grams per day will have a much higher monthly cost than a prescription for one gram or less per day, and that can influence which price point you become comfortable with.

When initially starting out with an LP (or with medical cannabis in general), it’s common to try different types of strains to gauge how one affects your body over another. This can drastically affect your perception of pricing as well.

For example, after comparing different strains, you could find that a product is worth the higher price because it affects your quality of life more than any other strain. Alternatively, you could find that after testing out various products, a less-expensive strain works best for your ailments.

Like many aspects of medical cannabis, it comes down to your specific situation and needs.

Shipping

While shipping is often thought of after buying something online, knowing as much as you can about a licensed producer’s shipping practices can help make your experience of buying medical cannabis online a good one.

First, what’s the LP’s free shipping policy? When you’re ordering medical cannabis at least once a month, the last thing you want to do is pay any shipping fees. Most producers will offer free shipping if your order exceeds a certain dollar amount, and some will enable free shipping based on how many grams are in your order.

Next, find out how long it should take to receive your order once you’ve purchased online. Multiple factors affect this, including how quickly the producer fulfills your order from when it’s placed and how often shipping companies pick up deliveries from their facility, but any LP should be able to give you an estimated number of days.

Where you live in Canada and where the LP is located will certainly affect delivery times, too. It should never take longer than 5-7 business days to receive your order, and most orders are received much quicker than that. For example, we’re located in Hamilton, Ontario and have had clients from coast to coast receive their orders in only a few days.

Compassionate Pricing Program

If you have a low income or are on disability, many producers offer discounts on their products in what’s usually called a compassionate care or compassionate pricing program.

Whether a percentage discount or lower fixed price per gram, these programs are in extreme demand. As a result, many LP compassionate care programs are completely maxed out and require you to get on a wait list.

Sometimes there’s an application process that’s required, while in other cases you just need to show your most recent NOA (Notice of Assessment) from Canada Revenue or your latest pay stub to show that you’re on social assistance.

When exploring compassionate care programs, it’s important to see which products are eligible. Some producers that offer a percentage discount will allow you to apply it to any product in their catalog, while other LPs have specific list of products at specific lower price points.

Payment Options

When ordering your cannabis from a producer’s online store, the most common way to pay is with any major Canadian credit card.

Depending on the LP, though, other payment methods are accepted and alternative arrangements can usually be made by talking to a producer’s client care/customer service team. For example, Green Relief accepts all major credit cards but also Interac e-transfers, cheques, money orders, and prepaid credit cards.

Veterans

Whether you’ve served our country in the past or are currently part of the Canadian Forces, most licensed producers have a program in place that recognizes your service.

While it varies between producers, most operate off of a K number that’s provided through Veterans Affairs Canada.

Find the Best Match

Most of all, it’s crucial that once you’ve established what your specific needs are, you find a producer that matches, meets, and exceeds them.

For example, you might have been recommended a strain from one LP by a friend, but another LP has an oil you’d like to try — and that’s just fine!

You might be told otherwise, but you can absolutely ask your doctor to split your prescription between two (or even three) licensed producers, if there are different types of medical cannabis you’d like to try.

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Remember, the more you can learn and teach yourself about medical cannabis, the more empowered you’ll be when making your decision.