Photo Credit: by Stacks Millions, from flickr.com
Let’s say you have a specific condition that is treated with an important prescription medication. You know about the ability to order your prescription from Canadian pharmacies online. You know about medical marijuana prescriptions. And you know that marijuana was recently legalized in Canada. So does that mean you can order marijuana from Canadian pharmacies online?
Not so fast. In this article, we’ll explore the world of marijuana and Canadian pharmacies and help answer your questions on whether cannabis is legally available through Canadian pharmacies. We’ll also discuss some quick facts on marijuana legalization in Canada as well as discuss how weed (the more informal term for marijuana) affects your body. Lastly, we’ll go over other important marijuana legalization news so you can stay up-to-date on all things relevant to this burgeoning industry.
Can (and should) legal cannabis be available from Canadian pharmacies online?
Should legal cannabis be able to be distributed by local retailers or online outlets? Canada’s retail pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart has a medical marijuana license to be able to sell at in-store pharmacies. If these pharmacies can already mail people the prescriptions they need, and if people have a prescription for marijuana already, won’t that be the way it works? Not necessarily, but the laws are still changing. In addition, it’s important to know that it is not yet legal to buy marijuana edibles in Canada but that law should be changing soon as that is the next phase.
According to an article on Marijuana Business Daily, “The regulatory body that oversees medical cannabis in Canada says it’s open to the idea of distributing cannabis directly to patients through pharmacies, a move that could give the country’s MMJ market a boost by improving access.
But such a change would require buy-in from other key players beyond Health Canada. The only legal channel patients have to purchase medical marijuana in Canada is directly from licensed producers/sellers via registered mail. Canada’s sales regimen puts it at odds with other countries that regulate medical cannabis at a federal level and distribute MMJ directly via pharmacies.
While some industry executives hope for the requisite regulatory change as soon as this year, analysts say a more likely scenario would be 2019 or 2020. Health Canada told Marijuana Business Daily it is open to discussing the issue, but action would ‘require support from the provinces and territories, provincial regulatory authorities and pharmacists.’
Onsite pharmacy sales could breathe fresh life into Canada’s medical marijuana market, which has seen slowing quarterly growth in patient registrants since late 2016. Canada has 270,000 registered patients, up from 75,000 last June. Faster patient growth could boost MMJ sales.
Trina Fraser, a business lawyer at Brazeau Seller Law and adviser to licensed MMJ producers, sees pharmacy sales as ‘inevitable.’ ‘It’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take us to get there,’ she said.”
So, while it’s possible that we may see marijuana for sale through Canadian online pharmacies in the future, it’s important to remember that this will only apply to sales and customers within the country of Canada. It is still illegal on both sides for marijuana to cross country lines, and marijuana also remains illegal under federal law in the United States.
In other words, just because a medical marijuana patient has a valid prescription for marijuana in the US and marijuana is now legal in Canada, both medically and recreationally, that does not mean the patient will be able to order their marijuana prescription through any Canadian online pharmacies.
So, that answers the “can” questions. But “should” you be able to order your marijuana prescription through Canadian pharmacies online? We think so! Whatever helps patients get the prescriptions they need at prices they can afford is what is important to us. If Canadian pharmacies and being able to order online provides the greatest ease of use for patients, then we believe that’s what should happen. Hopefully, as marijuana legalization continues to expand in the US and around the world, we will see possibilities like ordering marijuana from online Canadian pharmacies spring up.
Quick facts on marijuana legalization in Canada
Canada recently made headlines for legalizing recreational pot. While the whole country celebrated, it’s important to know the laws that remain in place around marijuana and also to understand where to get it and the context behind this bold move.
When it comes to driving and the health effects people should know before getting behind the wheel, new legislation in June determined that police are able to pull people over for roadside saliva tests if they suspect them to be under the influence. From there, what happens will depend on how much THC is in the person’s blood. Drivers who are high may face fines, jail time, and even up to 10 years in prison.
Here are a few more quick facts from CNN based on this recent news:
Who can buy marijuana in Canada? Adults will be allowed to buy, use, possess and grow recreational marijuana, under the law. In Quebec and Alberta, the legal age is 18; it's 19 in the remainder of the country. The measure legalizing the recreational use of the drug passed the Senate in June.
Where can I buy it? The supply of recreational marijuana could be limited, at least early on, in some stores. Officials in Nova Scotia and Manitoba said they won't have a large selection, at least not on the first day, CNN affiliate CBC News reported. …
Marijuana will not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Consumers are expected to purchase the drug from retailers regulated by provinces and territories or from federally licensed producers when those options are not available.
Can I travel in and out of Canada with weed? No. Please, save yourself a lot of trouble. Whether you are entering or leaving Canada, it is illegal to have marijuana with you, and you could face criminal charges. You can’t travel across international borders with it, even if it you are going to Colorado or any of the other eight US states where it has been legalized.”
(And by the way, even within Canada, you still need to know the laws of the provinces and territories you are going to. When traveling across the border and on planes, you should expect to be asked questions or have to declare forms.)
What about previous pot charges? Authorities will soon announce plans to pardon Canadians who have been convicted of possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, CNN partner CTV reported. The production, distribution or sale of cannabis products will still be an offense for minors.
Why did they legalize it? The Canadian legislation, known as the Cannabis Act, stems from a campaign pledge of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep marijuana away from underage users and curb marijuana-related crime. Some health care professionals in Canada have said they are afraid of the consequences of legalizing marijuana. Stringent rules will still govern the purchase and use of marijuana. Canada’s government also made changes to impaired driving laws to address repercussions for driving under the influence of cannabis. Legalizing cannabis is expected to create an industry worth more than $4 billion in Canada.”
On the day that Canada’s recreational pot bill passed into law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana - and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept”
The sale and use of marijuana by minors is problematic and leads to a booming black market of weed in marijuana. Marijuana is not healthy for use in minors because it can affect brain functioning. It’s important that only responsible, legal adults are allowed to consume cannabis and that it does not end up in the hands of children. Prime Minister Trudeau’s hope seems to be that legalizing marijuana recreationally will help to prevent or at least dramatically decrease the use and abuse of marijuana by minors.
Also, just because recreational marijuana is now legal, don’t expect to see gummies, mints, or brownies on the market just yet: marijuana edibles are not yet for sale in Canada, as this form of marijuana is subject to more guidelines.
It’s also important to note that not all provinces are rolling out the new marijuana laws in the same way. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “Ontario has the country’s largest market, but the rollout was more subdued in this province than the rest of the country. That’s a consequence of the Conservative government’s last-minute decision to introduce legislation that changes key cannabis policies adopted by the previous Liberal regime.
There weren’t any lineups at stores in Ontario, because there aren’t any stores. The province began legalization with online sales only. Bricks-and-mortar stores won’t open until April. That’s because the Conservative government ditched the planned government-run outlets operated by a branch of the LCBO in favour of privately run pot shops. The licensing rules still have to be worked out.”
In addition, different areas within each province are allowed to put in place their own rules about the public consumption of marijuana. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you can use it anywhere and everywhere you want, much like the use of alcohol. There are open-carry laws that forbid people from walking down the street with an open container of alcohol, or driving with alcohol.
Still, what makes Canada’s decision so newsworthy and groundbreaking is the fact that not many other countries permit completely legal marijuana for recreational use on a country-wide basis. Canada is only the second country in the entire world to do this, following Uruguay’s lead, which in 2013 became the first country in the world to legalize the producing, selling, and consuming of marijuana. Uruguay also began selling cannabis in pharmacies in 2017.
Today, just nine states in the United States permit recreational marijuana use, though forms of medical marijuana are legal in up to 30 states. Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC all permit recreational pot, while various other states permit medical use of marijuana.
What’s the difference? Essentially, the difference between medical and recreational pot is only in the legalities and technicalities of the substance. Many of the same products available for medical use could be used recreationally, and vice versa. They are often similar strengths and many people can enjoy using them either way. In most cases, medical marijuana is not a special or different kind of marijuana.
If anything, medical marijuana is simply sold in more medicinal forms -- think sublingual tinctures, topical oils, and vaping pods -- rather than more recreational forms such as smoking the actual leaves themselves. This administration method is not typically provided to medical patients. The packaging is also different oftentimes, as medical marijuana is obviously geared to appeal more toward a crowd of patients who are turning to marijuana as a medical necessity rather than as a recreational substance to relax or something they enjoy taking for the experience it provides.
The Ottawa Citizen puts it this way: “The names might be fanciful or fun — Easy Cheesy, Dreamweaver — but the packages most definitely are not. Health Canada rules call for packages to be child-resistant and dominated by health warnings and a standard THC symbol inside a red stop sign. Companies can pick a single background colour and add a small brand logo. Many of the containers are plastic, others are boxes, and there a few envelopes. All of them must be odour-proof.” In other words, the packaging of medical marijuana is very sterile and pharmaceutical, while recreational pot will likely have more of a consumer appeal to attract customers who want to try marijuana for non medicinal purposes.
What about South Koreans and other Asians?
Oddly enough, some Asian citizens have been left out of Canada’s recent celebrations after legalizing weed. That’s because according to the government of South Korea, it is illegal for South Koreans to smoke marijuana -- period, end of story. China and Japan issued similar warnings. It doesn’t matter if they are abroad or if they are in a country where smoking weed is legal. It’s not clear how the government of South Korea may be able to monitor its citizens activities and drug use while abroad, but the message remains loud and clear.
The Korea Times published an article to remind its citizens of the laws and the warning issued by Korea’s Customs Service. “The Korea Customs Service (KCS) has warned Koreans living in Canada not to smoke marijuana as the North American nation moves to allow recreational marijuana sales in just two months.
‘It will still be illegal for Koreans to smoke marijuana in Canada or anywhere else,’ the KCS said Monday. ‘Koreans who return here after using the drug could face criminal charges.’ … The KCS said it seized 18 kilograms of marijuana between January and July ? up 365 percent on the same period last year ? after California began sales of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1. The haul is expected to surge once the Canadian law takes effect.
‘We will strengthen inspections of people who come from Canada and their belongings as well as all packages from the country,’ the KCS said. ‘We will continue our efforts to prevent drug smuggling.’” With nearly 300,000 South Korean tourists visiting Canada in the year 2017, it sounds like the customs officials may have their hands full.
In conclusion, things are changing in the world of marijuana and Canadian online pharmacies. Cannabis is now legal throughout Canada, but that doesn’t mean it can be sold through online Canadian pharmacies just yet—but don’t rule it out for the future! There is more change, development, and progress to come. While ordering your medications through online Canadian pharmacies is convenient and affordable, you won’t be able to do it with your marijuana prescription just yet. Above all, it’s important to do your research to stay up to date on this quickly evolving industry.
Skye Sherman is a professional writer who has been published in numerous local and international outlets. She has also worked for a wellness company and is very familiar with the healthcare industry. She holds a degree from a Florida university.
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