Medical Cannabis

FAQ About Cannabis

What is Cannabis? 

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant that is grown in many parts of the world today. The Cannabis plant produces a resin containing compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are active chemicals in Cannabis that cause drug-like effects throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the immune system.

What Are the Active Ingredients in Medicinal Marijuana?

The two main components of marijuana are: 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD):

  • THC produces the psychoactive effects of marijuana. It also has analgesic, anti-nausea, appetite stimulant and anti-spastic effects.
  • CBD does not cause psychoactive effects. It has neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-epileptic and anti-psychotic properties.

Is Medical Cannabis Legal in Canada?

Doctors can now issue Medical Documents to authorize patients to purchase medical cannabis from a Canadian Licensed Producer  (LP). The decision of which licensed producer to use is up to the person who is given authorization by their physician. Visit the Health Canada website to learn more about Canadian Licensed Producers and the process to get authorization. 

Since 2013, federal regulations have allowed Canadians with medical documentation to access herbal cannabis from Canadian LPs.

Who Can Get Medical Cannabis Authorization?

Each patient is assessed individually by a medical doctor. If the doctor determines the patient is a suitable candidate for medical cannabis they will be given a medical document that provides authorization to contact a Canadian LP.  

Do I have to smoke my medical cannabis?

There are diverse ways to consume medical cannabis, including vaporizing, and consuming oils and other derivative products. One method of consumption may be more helpful for managing a specific symptom, than another. The LP can assist you in finding the mode of consumption that would work best for you.

How do I choose the right strain for my condition and symptoms?

The therapeutic effects of cannabis vary according to the content and ratio of THC and CBD compounds of the specific strain type. Typically an educator associated with the LP can assist you in choosing the strain that is most appropriate to help you manage your symptoms.

What is a vaporizer? What is vaporizing?

Vaporizers are the logical choice for moderate to experienced and/or health-conscious cannabis consumers. A vaporizer steadily heats herbs to a temperature that is high enough to extract THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids but too low for the potentially harmful toxins that are released during combustion; essentially, vaporization eliminates some of the health risks associated with smoking. This improvement comes with an equally significant reduction in odor, which is generally the first acknowledgement of first-time vaporizer users. There is a diverse landscape of vaporizer models and the market is only expanding as the technology improves. 

How do I travel with my cannabis? 

You are allowed to carry with you the lesser of (a) thirty times your daily limit of cannabis (as set out in your medical document), or (b)  150 grams. 

For air travel, we recommend contacting your airline to find out what their policy is regarding travelling with medical cannabis, within Canada. If they allow for it, you should be able to declare your medical cannabis and store it safely in your carry-on luggage. 

In any case, your medical cannabis should always be in its original packaging with your patient label intact . 

Please note that you CANNOT travel outside of Canada with your cannabis.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Medical Cannabis?

Information on side effects for therapeutic use of medical cannabis is limited, however, some known side effects include euphoria, intoxication-like effects, dizziness, drowsiness, impaired memory, disorientation, dry mouth, and rapid heartbeat. This is not a complete list.

Please consult with your doctor regarding other possible side effects and what steps to take if you experience anything unexpected after using medical cannabis. 

Cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in clinical trials for ways to manage side effects of cancer and cancer therapies, including pain relief, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety and may help with sleep and appetite. For more information, please read Medical Cannabis and Brain Tumours 

Note: Medicinal Cannabis is not a Health Canada approved treatment. To date, there is no clear evident on the relative benefits and risks of medical cannabis on the treatment of brain tumours. The purpose of this article is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute the advice of a physician. 

Download this information as a PDF.

Thank you to Tilray for providing information on travel and the use of vaporizers.

On June 20, 2017 there was a webinar: "Where There's Smoke: The Role of Cannabis in Brain Tumours" the recording of which can be found in Online Learning.

Watch this page for links to published research and articles as they become available.

For more information about brain tumours contact Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada via our toll free information and support line 1-800-265-5106 from Monday to Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm EST.

Materials provided by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada are not intended to replace the advice or instruction of a professional healthcare practitioner, or to substitute for medical care. We urge you to seek specific medical advice on individual matters of concern. This information is for educational purposes only.

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