What is a medical cannabis authorization?
This is a great question, and one we encounter frequently, from patients…and from physicians alike!
A medical cannabis authorization is similar to a prescription, one you might get from your doctor for a medication, however, there are some key differences. The terms are often used interchangeably – which is not quite correct, so be astute and know your terminology!
Prescription medication has a DIN...
A prescription for a drug requires that the prescribed medication has a DIN (drug identification number). All pharmaceutical medicines have a DIN, and this includes Sativex and Cesamet. These “synthetic cannabinoids” are pharmaceutically produced synthetic THC molecules, the “man-made” form of cannabis.
On the other hand, plant medicines such as medical cannabis, do not have DINs. This is largely due to the fact that despite stringent production protocols and high–tech growing methods, it is challenging to replicate the exact same terpene and cannabinoid concentrations in all cannabis plant varieties. Simply put, one plant from a single batch compared to another plant grown in with the exact same methods and genetics may still produce varying effects. Licensed producers are getting closer and closer to perfecting the cloning process and producing medications for patients that are as consistent as possible, but it’s not as accurate as a synthetic version.
What’s an authorization and how does it work?
So then, what’s an authorization for medical cannabis? The best way to think about it is ACCESS. A physician or nurse practitioner (NP) may “authorize” access to medical cannabis by way of a “medical document”. Similar to a prescription, this document contains patient information, the term, or length of the authorization (up to one year maximum), product type recommendations (THC, CBD, or balanced), dosing instructions and THC restrictions. Learn more about THC restrictions at the bottom of this FAQ section.
Licensed producers require a medical document to register a patient and thereby grant them access to purchase their medical cannabis products. Once a registration is completed by the licensed producer, the patient can begin ordering their cannabis online and have it shipped right to their home. These steps are further detailed on our patient journey page.
What’s the difference again?
The difference mostly lies in what happens afterwards… A prescription is taken to a pharmacist, filled accordingly and taken as directed, whereas a medical cannabis authorization allows a patient to purchase any medical cannabis product that falls within the limits of what their healthcare practitioner has authorized.
This means that a patient could try a number of products including:
A topical cream to apply to localized areas for treatment
Dried flower to be used via a vaporizer
Cannabis oils, capsules and oral sprays
Shatters, waxes and concentrated oil vapes
Gummies, soft chews, tablets, sublingual strips and chocolates