This month we start global and end up local.
Eight years after the world’s largest survey researching the patterns and practices of cannabis cultivation, the researchers are back and they’re asking Canadian cannabis growers to help them get real data to the policymakers who will be reviewing the Cannabis Act (Daniel Bear).
On a national level, Kieley Beaudry talks about some of the barriers she and other micro-growers face under a regulatory framework that has cannabis criss-crossing the country before it ever reaches the consumer (Asma Hamid).
And finally, patient advisors work step-by-step with consumers to bring medical cannabis right to your doorstep (Megan Henderson).
As always, thank you to all those who made this issue possible. If you are interested in contributing to future issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Canadian Cannabis Growers:
Have your say!
The first time I helped grow cannabis it was on a farm just north of Santa Cruz, California. Perched on a hillside less than 2km inland we had a clear view of the Pacific whenever we looked up from our task: nurturing an acre of plants destined to be given away to members of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana. 75% of the group were terminally ill, and in the year I spent with them for my undergraduate thesis 12 of the members died. The DEA had raided the farm a few months before I began working there, but a Federal court injunction meant that until the case was resolved the farm was protected, and therefore the only legal grow operation in the entire US outside of a few research facilities. And so we grew vibrant plants in the California soil, harvesting more cannabis from each plant than I’d ever seen in my life. That was 16 years ago, and until recently I’d focused my cannabis research on things other than growing. But last year I joined researchers from 17 other countries as part of the Global Cannabis Cultivation Research Consortium, and today we’re asking for 20 minutes of your time.
A few weeks ago we launched the International Cannabis Cultivation Questionnaire 2.0 (ICCQ2), the world’s largest research survey to explore the patterns and practices of cannabis cultivation. Launched in 2012 as the ICCQ1, the survey fills a gap left by the data collection priorities of prohibition. When cannabis is illegal, policy makers aren’t particularly interested in whether small-scale cannabis gardeners use a Sea of Green or Screen of Green method; counting arrests and busts are all that matter. The GCCRC team realized that in order to make good cannabis policy, especially if legalization or decriminalization supplanted the dying prohibitionist model, we’d need to understand how and why people grow cannabis. What the ICCQ1 found won’t surprise most cannabis consumers, but it upended many of the tropes policymakers had about cannabis and cannabis growers.
We learned that many growers of cannabis took up growing to supply cannabis for their medical needs that they did not otherwise have access to. We also identified that medical growers were not simply trying to justify recreational use, as many policy makers seem to suggest. In addition, the data from the ICCQ1 showed that increasing the potential punishment for growing did not have a deterrence effect on the number of individuals growing cannabis. And we learned more about how many growers engage in small amounts of social supply to friends and family, undercutting concerns about small-scale growing fueling the commercial black market.
Now we’ve launched the ICCQ 2.0, and we need the help of Canadian cannabis growers. The Cannabis Act which legalized cannabis on October 17, 2018 is required to be reviewed on the three year anniversary of the legalization. Right now there is precious little data about what small-scale and personal cannabis growing looks like in Canada. This survey represents the best possible vehicle to get actual data into the hands of policymakers who will be deciding how to improve cannabis growing policies. And if policy arguments won’t get you to take the survey, maybe competitiveness will. Right now our tiny friend Belgium, with only 1/3 the population of Canada, has ten times the number of responses we do! C’mon Canada!
We understand that people may be hesitant to share their information with us, and I think it is important to explain exactly how we handle your data and what we’re going to use it for. First, we take privacy very seriously. Many of the respondents to this survey come from jurisdictions where they face very serious penalties for growing any cannabis. Our survey is housed on servers in Australia run by Qualtrics, a reputable survey management tool. We don’t use any cookies or keep any access logs for the project website. On the survey we’ve disabled features that record incoming IP addresses or any other identifying information. We don’t ask any personally identifiable information, and we screen the text based responses to make sure none was accidentally provided.
When we’ve finished collecting survey responses we’ll be using the information you provided us to write academic journal articles, book chapters, and reports on our findings. The Canadian team plans to use the data in a report that we’ll try to ensure is part of the government’s proceedings during the Cannabis Act review in 2021. Neither myself nor Dr. Milot, the other researcher leading the Canadian data collection efforts, are financially benefitting from this work. We’re doing this because we care about the issue and want to fix a gap in Canadian cannabis data. We hope that you take about 20 minutes of your time and complete our survey by going to www.worldwideweed.nl. You can take a look at publications that came out of the previous survey and read about the different researchers participating in the project while you’re there. Thanks for your time and your insights.Take the Survey
Current regulations hurt micro-growers and send cannabis from coast to coast
Asma Hamid and Kieley Beaudry
I spoke to Kieley Beaudry of Parkland Flower just outside of Edmonton about some of the practical and legal challenges facing micro-cultivators, and her thoughts on processing, packaging, and selling legal cannabis.
Beaudry explains, “For me to be able to sell cannabis to a retail license holder I must have a micro-processing license. There are different frameworks across the province. But I still can’t sell with just that license. I also need a sales authorization or a sales amendment.”
She identifies overly stringent regulations as a hindrance to micro-cultivators. Her recommendation? “Health Canada should reduce Quality Assurance Person requirements and assess the actual risk. If the product has been tested, if it’s good for microbials, good for heavy metals, good for pesticides and safe to put on the consumer market, then that should be enough. Why should we treat it like a pharmaceutical? It is a plant!”
Beaudry concedes that products like edibles which require an extra layer of work do require high standards, which reflects what happens in other industries. However, she maintains that what is expected of the cannabis industry it is out of control because there is an undue level of burden and hardship.
She agrees that “having a little bit extra for regulation makes sense. But, for normal food, we don’t do that for apples, tomatoes, produce that goes into the market. There’s an inspection, but for the most part farmers can put it out to the market.”
It is understandable that micro-cultivators will shop around for processors who will give them the best deal. This can also mean that the product travels 9,000 km before it is deemed safe enough for consumption. This is on top of concerns about wasted packaging in the cannabis industry.
The reality is that many micro growers are cash strapped. As Beaudry explains, “Sustainability be damned if you’re about to lose your entire livelihood.” She adds, “Health Canada’s purpose is to protect Canadians. They did that, but now their rules have created such a weird marketplace that inadvertently causes our weed to travel thousands of miles, thereby increasing the number of hands it goes through. This creates more contamination risks and reduces the quality of the cannabis.”
Patient Advisors Help Consumers “Go Medical”
Whether you are dealing with an on-going illness or condition, working to treat anxiety, stress, insomnia, PTSD, etc. or have been in a motor vehicle accident, medical cannabis could help manage your symptoms or conditions.
But navigating the process of becoming a patient can be challenging on a good day. Often patients are already dealing with pain, discomfort or other issues that make the process even more difficult to manage.
That’s where clinics like MMC can help. We’ve put together some of the most common questions we receive from patients.
1. Do I need a referral?
No, we do not require you to have a referral to obtain a medical cannabis prescription. We do recommend reaching out to your family physician to discuss medical cannabis, and we’re happy to send reports to them if requested.
2. Is there a fee?
Our services for obtaining a medical cannabis prescription are completely free!
3. Do I need to come into an office to meet with a Nurse Practitioner?
Your consultation and our white-glove patient services provided will all take place over a virtual platform, or over the phone depending on your comfort level.
4. How long will it take to get the medical cannabis, from the time I submit an intake form?
We try to make this process as simple and easy as possible, by providing white-glove patient services. Depending on the day you submit your intake form, we should be able to book your virtual appointment to obtain a prescription within a week. Registering with a Licensed Producer (LP) to purchase from can take between 1 and 7 days.
5. How much does medical cannabis usually cost?
The price and average cost varies based on the producer, strain and form. You can typically expect to pay between $5-12 per gram. Most Licensed Producers (LP) have discounts and special pricing available for low income, seniors and First Responders.
6. Why do I need a prescription if cannabis is legal?
There are many benefits to being a medical cannabis patient versus self-medicating. Here are a few of our favourite reasons:
- Medical cannabis prescriptions can be covered under insurance (all insurance plans are different, so make sure to check your coverage)
- Medical cannabis can be written off, and is applicable for tax returns
- Compassionate pricing, discounts for Seniors and other groups are available from Licensed Producers.
- Ordering is all done online, with the products being shipped directly to your door by Canada Post or Purolator.
- Medical cannabis products have a wider variety of CBD dominant products available and often have other rapid onset formats not available in the recreational market.
- By obtaining a medical cannabis prescription, your treatment will be supervised by one of our specialized Nurse Practitioners. If any of your practitioners want to be kept updated on your treatment, we’re happy to keep them informed with reports.
- Medical cannabis patients often report a reduction in other prescription medications like opioids, etc.
Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Patient FAQs:
1. How do I know if I qualify for medical cannabis coverage after my auto accident?
If you currently have an open claim with your auto insurer based on injuries from an auto accident, then you could be covered for treatment of your injuries. If you’re still unsure, we always recommend reaching out to your legal team (if you have one) or directly to the adjuster assigned to your case. If you are still unsure, feel free to reach out to us and we’re happy to help.
2. What is an OCF-18? Why does it allow you to order for me?
An OCF-18 is a formal treatment plan that we (MMC) complete and submit to officially request coverage through your insurance company. By having an approved OCF-18, MMC can purchase your cannabis products and then be reimbursed by your insurance company. This treatment plan is completed with a combination of previous medical history, current injuries and ailments caused by your MVA, and medical cannabis treatment suggestions.
The plan allows us to request coverage for our administrative services (completion of the OCF-18, education and care counselling), 3 check-ins by a Registered Nurse to ensure your plan is as efficient as possible, and a set amount of medical cannabis based on the amount our Nurse Practitioner recommended.
3. Is there a fee for your services?
We have an administrative fee of $200 that is only required to be paid if the OCF-18 treatment plan is declined by your insurance company, as your insurance company will pay us the fee if the plan is approved. We typically will request your legal team guarantee this $200 fee, but if you do not have a legal team, we can discuss your options on a case-by-case basis.
Grow Your Own FAQs
1. How are plant counts determined for medical patients?
The main determining factor is the prescription you receive from your medical doctor. Your plant count directly relates to the amount of grams your doctor prescribes you per day. The higher the gram amount, the higher the plant count.
2. Indoor Plant Counts vs Outdoor Plant counts?
The number of plants you’re allowed to grow with a medical license also depends on where you plan on growing. Health Canada allows for more indoor plants since these tend to be much smaller in size than outdoor plants.
3. Are there any fees?
Yes, the administrative fee is $199 (tax included). This will cover administrative fees for a 12-month period. Upon renewal, the administrative fee will be $99 per renewal (tax included). This administrative fee includes all of the following services for the next year:
- temporary prescription to licensed producers until you’re approved by Health Canada for first-time growers
- help filling out the application form
- delivery of original medical document, including postage
- tips and tricks on how to grow cannabis
- reminders of when to renew
Megan Henderson is the General Manager of Medical Marijuana Consulting. To speak to their Patient Care team today call 1-844-312-5143 or visit www.medmc.ca and click Book Now to set up a consultation.