Sunday 25 June 2017

The Monetization of Cannabis in Canada

***this post was published here on Cannabis Life Network.

Canada has a single-payer healthcare system yet every step of getting legal to use medicinal Cannabis is monetized in some way.  From the first step of referral to the last click of purchase, you'll pay in some way.

If you get a written diagnosis from your Doctor, you'll likely have to pay for it.  If you want to buy a copy of your file, you'll pay for that too.  That one stings more since the bigger the file, the bigger the fee and you have no control over how many notes your Doctor made in said file.

If you go to some legalizing clinics in any Canadian city you'll pay to be assessed by a Doctor.  My buddy just paid $139 to Medi-Green simply to be added to the client roster.  When the clinic registers him to a licensed producer, they'll likely get some kick-back to say thanks.

If you wanted to use your medicine safely by vaporizing, your Doctor can write a letter of recommendation asking for health insurances to cover the cost, and you'll likely pay for that letter.

Once you've jumped through the hoops to be legal you'll begin paying to pay for your medicine. You can pay by credit, debit, or e-transfer --none of which is free!  You'll pay for it to be delivered and you'll pay tax on it too.

Canada has a single-payer healthcare system but you wouldn't know it.

And I'm sure if you asked our brave and balanced Parliament how the legal medical Cannabis program was doing, they'd say it was a great success.  But I ask you, how can it be a success when our own Health Ministry doesn't recognize it as medicine?

Many people believe that the medical program is nothing but a Trojan Horse for recreational.  As someone who believes all use is medicinal, I sit on the fence with this one but as I see producers, financial gurus, and dabblers in the stock market drooling at the potential money to be made, I can definitely see their point.

I mean, let's be real for a moment here:  Snoop isn't medicinal nor are the Trailer Park Boys.  Yet they are now the faces of two common producers of this medicine.  Can you imagine if Merck used a celebrity to market for them?  Wait, I guess they do but it's done as though the celebrity is a patient successfully being treated with that medication.  As much as Bubbles could Ricky could likely use a daily shot of CBD, it's never been implied that they are medical patients.

But of course we're all to believe that Health Canada's "no marketing" rules surrounding all of the legal producers is being followed and respected.  I made notes for this article with a pen from CannTrust and my breath and lips are currently smooth and fresh thanks to mints and chap stick from Emblem.  So the swag from the LIFT convention isn't marketing?  Right.

What they don't see is that the simple fact that these producers get to price their medicine however they wish, is clearly marketing.  Bedrocan's $5 grams was a brilliant marketing achievement as is MedReleaf's 'Rex' at $17.50 per gram.  Both price schemes play into different mindsets to profit an industry pretending to be medical until recreational begins.

Oh my bum gets sore from sitting on this fence.  I'm so happy to be a part of this program and for me, getting legal was an antidepressant in itself.  But we have to stop pretending that things are going well.  Patients can't afford this medicine yet nobody in a position of change knows this.  Or maybe they don't care.

It's the micro view vs the macro view.  How can you govern unless you see both?

Thursday 15 June 2017

The DIN: A Dangerous Safety Net

***This article was published here on Cannabis Life Network.

I work at a Cannabis Clinic that follows all of the rules.  Our Doctors get paid through OHIP to assess patients only after copious amounts of supporting documents are received.  Heck, sometimes I think we ask for more just to ask for more!

This is because our Doctors are also overly scrutinized by the CPSO.  Capping THC and limiting grams per day keeps them on their toes and ever aware that they're risking their license to help strangers use a plant.

A friend has been going through a stressful time at work.  Depression is ever close at hand in times like these so he went to his Doctor for help.  His Doctor couldn't see him so another stepped in. She gave him Clonazepam for immediate effect.

Immediate effect or immediate addiction?

What's more curious is this friend hadn't been to the Doctor this one replaced in 25 years.  There was no relevant medical history, no supporting documents to prove diagnosis or need for medication at all and she gave him one of the most addictive, sedative, and damaging meds created.  Zombie-pills.

If this guy came to my Cannabis Clinic, he would never have been booked for an assessment.  We'd make a file for him and we'd send requests for information to his Doctor, but no visits means no treatment notes, no medical history at all.  To be prescribed medical Cannabis you need relevant medical history and a clear diagnosis even though by toxicity it's safer than water.

What's the difference between Clonazepam and Cannabis?  A drug identification number or DIN.

The DIN is the medical industry's way of identifying drugs.  To get a DIN, the drug has to go through rigorous testing and studies so that its effects, side effects, and contraindications are known.  So knowing how addictive it is didn't deter this Doctor from prescribing it to my friend?  Why is that? Because with that DIN all she has to say is that the patient needed an anxiolytic.  The DIN protects the Doctor and the Pharmacist goes over risks and contraindications.  Easy-peasy.

The DIN is a dangerous safety net that allows too many of us to be harmed and addicted to meds that do no good.

Cannabis on the other hand doesn't have a DIN and if you talk to most Doctors outside of the Cannabis industry, they'll tell you there are no studies.  Absolute nonsense.  Humanity has been doing a Cannabis study for the past 5000 years.  And guess what?  By toxicity, Cannabis is the safest medication known to man.

Then why the fiery hoops?  Why do the Cannabis-curious have to prove diagnosis, list past meds, and give a urine sample to be given permission to try this uber safe plant while my friend got a highly addictive benzodiazepine that is incredibly difficult to withdraw from?

When you're stressed and on the verge of the dark hole of depression, you're like a hungry Sunfish biting at any therapy thrown at you.  Who questions the white-coats?  We do every single day through search engines and family friends, online forums and support groups.  As a member of this pack I feel that we are obligated to warn our fellow human about medications like this, and share the good news about Cannabis.

Lastly, only we can change Canada and these archaic prescribing mindsets.  When Cannabis was mentioned my friend says the Doctor acted like she didn't hear him.  She could have prescribed him Cannabis and capped his THC at 10% recommending high CBD and 1:1 strains only.  But the evil you know is better than ... a plant that has never killed anyone I guess and it's because of that stupid DIN.

Write your MP and your MPP and demand respect, research, and better access for Cannabis-curious Canadians.

Saturday 3 June 2017

Boots & Hearts with a Side of Cannabis?

Last weekend my bff Julie texted me by surprise saying that the song she had just listened to, made her think of me.  It was “Little Bones” by The Tragically Hip.  They’re our band, always have been. Heck, at age 18 Julie and I tried to sell fine art and gift ware listening to “Highway Girl” from their debut album, until the boss found out.  We’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ to the tunes of the Tragically Hip for as long as I can remember.

I grew up playing air guitar on the handlebars of my bike listening to lyrics that pulled at my heartstrings with their Canadian flavour.  I learned about my country through their lyrics province by province.  Early years of guitar riffs that played to my anger at our ineffective “Trickle Down” system;  then soon after riffs that played soft like the sway of Wheat Kings".  Leaf lovers, those living where the great plains begin, communities like Bobcaygeon, The Hip put these places on the map.  We thank them for it.

A little over a year ago, time stopped for many as the news told us about lead singer Gord Downie’s cancer diagnosis.  I immediately tweeted for him to research whole plant Cannabis oil.  I know my friends did too.  I wonder now if those messages and the obvious outpouring of support for the use of this safe plant in his treatment, pushed the Hip to make this most recent announcement.

The Tragically Hip are partnering with Newstrike, a soon to be public producer of Medicinal Cannabis.  I worked at Canadian Cannabis Clinics counselling new patients on the safe use of this plant in the same city that half of the band still live, so I feel a newfound connection to them.  These are individuals that anchor pride in the hearts of thousands of Canadians living in Kingston and the surrounding area.  I can’t help but feel hopeful that this venture will further breakdown the stigmatic barriers that keep locals from coming to our clinic for help.

As last summer’s farewell concert proved, these guys are more than they think they are.  Humans all over the planet watched and wept and wailed like we were locked in the trunk of a car.  Kingston rocked that night.  The Prime Minister ate somebody’s poutine in front of Sir John’s A’s Pub!  Gord put him on the spot for our Indigenous people too.  Rob’s glossy hair swayed, Johnny pounded with purpose on the drums, Paul and Gord grinding out the guitar chords that every hand in the place played in time.  The night the Hip said goodbye, may have been the most poignant and endearing act they ever played, further solidifying them as true representation of great Canadian talent.

The future is green and Cannabis is at every angle you look.  It’s nice to see involvement with people that hold the same core values as many of us, however varied they be.  Cannabis is about health and with The Tragically Hip partnering with Newstrike, we know we’ll be hearing more from them. That’s something for Canada to look forward to.

Welcome to the industry guys!  Reach out anytime!!

Raise the Wage to $15, Raise the Quality of Life!

Perfect example for the need for the minimum wage raise:

A friend of a friend of a friend just posted about a friend needing
to rent an apartment in the range of $700-$800 a month.

Let's say you make minimum wage and you're lucky
enough to work 40 hours per week.

$11.40 x 160 hrs/mo = $1824

less 20% income tax = $1460 net income per month

$1460 - $800 rent = $660 left

If you were to go to get credit they would calculate your
total debt service ratio.

With $800 rent and only rent, your TDSR is 44%

No credit for you!
No progress for you!
No car for you, no trips for you, no hotel stays for you!
No purchase between paychecks, no extras, no booze,
no chippies, no dime bags, nothing.

If you made more you could spend more.

But you can't even get credit so you simply can't spend more.

Dear business owners, we can't wait to spend more when
we make more.

Doesn't this excite you??

It really should excite you.