October 17, 2018.
That’s when the cannabis landscape in Canada changes dramatically.
The whole world will be watching when Canada officially becomes the first G7 country to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
Once it’s legalized, though, what does that mean for the medical cannabis community?
A lot of people are assuming that because it’s legal, you won’t need to buy your medical cannabis from a licensed producer (LP) anymore.
But the reality is that there are very exclusive benefits to choosing to buy from LPs even after legalization — and here are the top 5.
Write cannabis off on your taxes
Since September 2015, Canada Revenue Agency has allowed you to claim medical cannabis on your income tax return as a medical expense.
By having a valid prescription for medical cannabis from your health care practitioner and by buying your medical cannabis from a legal, Health Canada-approved licensed producer.
Which means that even if you keep your receipts after buying cannabis from a local dispensary or other outlet, you’ll be out of luck if you try to claim those purchases on your income tax return.
To claim medical cannabis on your next tax return, all you need is your receipts from your licensed producer, which are usually available to print any time in your online patient portal.
Then, you add up the total amount spent on cannabis from these receipts and add it to the other medical expenses you claim, such as prescriptions and dental.
Receive a travel exemption
When you’re packing for an upcoming trip, you usually don’t think twice about tossing your prescription medications in your suitcase or carry-on.
After all, these meds are often essential to your quality of life, whether they’re antihistamines or blood thinners.
The same goes for medical cannabis.
But given the stigma around marijuana, it can present challenges when travelling.
The good news is that if you’re flying with medical cannabis in Canada, you’re able to do so legally and usually without problems.
But again, that exemption only applies if you’re carrying products from one of Canada’s licensed producers under the ACMPR.
Knowing what’s in your medicine
One of the biggest benefits of buying medical cannabis from a licensed producer is that LPs are subject to strict testing protocols by Health Canada for every product that they grow or manufacture.
First, it means that what you see on your product’s packaging is what you actually get.
For example, every Green Relief product we sell is tested by an independent third party for multiple cannabinoids, which ensures we can back up and verify the percentages of THC or CBD on our product labels.
Second, when you buy cannabis from anywhere other than a licensed producer, there are no regulations in place, which means that anything could be added to the product you’re ingesting (including substances that shouldn’t be there like harmful pesticides or fertilizers).
Regulations and testing protocols also protect you from substances that shouldn’t be in your medical cannabis, such as harmful pesticides or fertilizers.
Third, licensed producers grow medical cannabis in state-of-the-art, pharmaceutical-grade facilities, but not for show. These facilities enable LPs to create repeatable processes and growing environments for a particular strain, which means as consistent of a product as possible.
When you’re using cannabis as medicine, you don’t want to play russian roulette with it — you want consistent, repeatable effects.
One aspect of licensed producers that doesn’t get mentioned enough is how much they can be held accountable.
As you just read, licensed producers are inspected by Health Canada and are always under the microscope of intense scrutiny. So if a product doesn’t contain what it says it does, or includes a substance that shouldn’t be there, then the LP can be penalized by Health Canada and even lose their license altogether.
Licensed producers are also held accountable by the general public, too.
You can call your LP if you ever receive an order that was, for example, the wrong weight, not sealed correctly, or the wrong product. Many producers have a return policy as well.
Experienced support every step of the way
When you buy a new laptop or software for your computer, you can call tech support if you ever need assistance.
The same goes for medical cannabis when you get it from a licensed producer.
Buying marijuana at a local dispensary or another outlet might be good for someone who already knows how to self-medicate and which strains work for them, but many people need knowledge from somewhere other than a street corner or the internet.
LPs have dedicated client care teams whose sole mission is to help you. That extends far beyond just support for a product you’ve bought — they’ll help you decide on which strains are best for your needs, what to ask when you talk to your doctor or go to a clinic, and more.
If you’re looking to alleviate specific ailments or symptoms and you don’t know about dosages, you need the security blanket of speaking to someone who is knowledgeable on the subject.
These are just some of the ways that you can benefit from choosing licensed producers for your medical cannabis, especially after legalization.
As more and more Canadians become better educated on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, the industry will continue to change.
We’ve already seen major insurance companies cover medical cannabis under certain circumstances, examples of employers covering it for select employees, and lobbying the government to make medical cannabis tax-free.
When medical cannabis adoption becomes even more widespread after legalization, getting a prescription and buying your cannabis from a licensed producer will be even more of a no-brainer.