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Easier access 

Medical cannabis can be a pain to access.

Still, there are people who are trying to make it easier on patients.

Joel Taylor is one of them.

“Medical cannabis needs to be much more accessible to Canadians,” he tells the oz. “We’re a scrappy little startup and we’re trying to fight the good fight. Hopefully we can provide a little bit of a disruption, a little bit of shakeup here to get people to realize that it doesn’t have to be the way that it is.”

Taylor, who’s been involved in medical cannabis for a long time, co-founded Patient Choice as a portal to provide more variety and better prices on the medical side.

“After recreational cannabis came to Canada there was an enormous vacuum in the industry, and a lot of licensed producers turned their back on medical cannabis altogether. Without medical cannabis patients, we wouldn’t have recreational today,” he says.

In some cases, clinics that are willing and able to prescribe cannabis are asking for a “ludicrous” 30% commission from LPs, he says.

“We just really struggle with the idea of a doctor reaching out to someone like GlaxoSmithKline and telling them that they’re going to need 30% of the bottom line in order to prescribe cancer medication to someone. We think that’s not something that’s sustainable anymore in socialized medicine here in Canada,” he says.

“We’re seeing medical clinics treating patients as though they’re a property or that they’re a consumable that they can vend out to licensed producers."

More choice, less cost

Patient Choice gives medical cannabis patients freedom to purchase from a range of providers, competitively priced on one platform.

The numerous supplier partnerships include TGOD, Tantalus, and GTEC. Patient Choice is adding more producers, processors, and nurseries.

Part of the benefit of patient’s choice is that patients don’t have to go through the process of moving their documents from one licensed producer to another.

“The reason bricks and mortar recreational stores are doing well is the access to variety that consumers have. We want to provide that to medical cannabis patients,” he says.

Through Patients Choice, people can come to a central location and choose from a variety of licensed producers, as opposed to being ‘hitched’ to one producer.

“It’s not easy for a patient to transfer their documents,” adds Taylor.

Doctors are leery 

Another challenge for those looking to access medical cannabis is the apprehension of doctors.

“It’s troubling that doctors are still nervous about prescribing it, but the College of Physicians really makes it difficult for them and they feel like they’re taking a risk with their licence,” he says.

Helen Stevenson, founder and CEO of Reformulary Group, says her company created the Cannabis Standard Index to help doctors feel more comfortable with cannabis by providing credible information.

“When you equip people with the information, they make better-informed decisions,” Stevenson tells the oz. in an interview. She has experience doing just that with pharmaceutical medication.

Helen Stevenson

Modelled after the company’s similar portal for prescription drugs, DrugFinder, the Cannabis Index helps encourage physicians who are wary of prescribing medical cannabis.

Stevenson, who is the former Assistant Deputy Minister of Health in Ontario, says one of the resources is a gentle templated note to doctors from patients who want to explore their options.

“There are physicians that are just a staunch 'no.' For the physicians perhaps that are more in the middle ground where they're interested but they just don’t know, this could be a great tool to assist them,” she says.

Can’t always trust the supply

It has become clear through events—such as the sudden halt of production at CannTrust due to illegal growing—that there’s a gap in understanding what strain could be substituted for another strain if the supply dries up for whatever reason.

If patients suddenly don't have access to their medicine, they don’t have a credible way of knowing what would make an appropriate substitute.

In the fall, the Reformulary Group announced its evidence-based index of medical cannabis products, an educational tool that allows medical patients and their doctors to assess and compare products made by different LPs.

“We feel very strongly about putting out there reliable information,” Stevenson says.

The company plans to expand the index to the recreational market, but right now they’re focused on helping patients.

Dr. Alan Bell, family physician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, says the Index helps health care practitioners evaluate medical cannabis with the same level of sophistication as with prescription drugs.

"Rather than relying on a product strain name, or user-generated reviews, we now have a system to help categorize and differentiate medical cannabis using data relevant for doctors and patients," he says.

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US both legalizes and decriminalizes

Portland, Oregon

There may be no clear presidential winner yet.

However, the early winners of the US election were cannabis, psychedelics—and the decriminalization of all drugs.

Here’s a quick wrap on what happened on Tuesday night with drugs in the US:

In what is set to become one of the biggest cannabis markets in the US, New Jersey has legalized recreational weed. With about 65% of NJ voters in favour a constitutional amendment, lawmakers in the state will soon pass legislation laying out how cannabis will become part of New Jersey life. The change will raise the stakes for neighboring states New York and Pennsylvania.

Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota all approved recreational cannabis in a referendum Tuesday night, making it 15 states now to legalize adult recreational use of cannabis.

Meanwhile, Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota all legalized medical cannabis.

Oregon decriminalizes

The most historic decision of the night goes to Oregonians, who passed one of the most significant drug policy changes ever in the US. Voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of all drugs.

It will remove criminal penalties for low-level drug possession offences—a first in the US. Instead, a $100 fine would be levied or the person could be required to complete a health assessment.

Also on US election night, Washington, DC, voters passed Initiative 81, which decriminalizes a wide range of psychedelic plants, including magic mushrooms. The measure makes the prosecution of those who use and sell them “among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”

Head to the oz. website for some Twitter reactions

David Wylie from the oz. appears on the on the latest episode of 
The Cannabis 101 Podcast to discuss the latest in cannabis news.
Watch here.

Quick hits

 Biggest black market bust in BC history? 

 Actor and writer Jean Yoon of Kim's Convenience, Tweets about a surprising discovery during a recent trip to her local dispensary.

 Canopy Growth is transferring its U.S. stock exchange listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Global Select Market starting Nov. 13.

  Aphria is believed to be the first large Canadian cannabis company to reach across the border to buy a successful craft brewer.

 Canopy Growth launches new CBD drinks in Canada.

ADVERTISE WITH US

This month, the oz.'s next print edition will be published! Support quality cannabis journalism and share your brand’s message with industry movers and shakers with an ad in the magazine. For more information contact Mike at sales@okanaganz.com.

Raspberry Milk Chocolate by Legend

Legend Raspberry Milk Chocolate is worth savouring.

The rich raspberry smell is a delightful prelude to the satisfyingly sweet flavour. The fruity taste off the top melts into creaminess and a silky texture.

The 46% cocoa milk chocolate used by Legend in its raspberry treat comes from renowned master chocolatier Bernard Callebaut.

The bite-sized 10-gram bar of chocolate is infused with 10 mg of THC extracted from cannabis using CO2. There’s no hint of cannabis taste.

It’s scored into four pieces (2.5 mg of THC each).

Legend’s offerings are some of the most affordable chocolates at $3.99. They also have orange and candy cane flavours, alongside the plain milk chocolate and dark chocolate (70% cocoa).

Legend is part of Indiva, which also makes the well-priced Bhang cholcolates.

Renowned chocolatier had bad fortune

A celebrated Calgary chocolate maker, Callebaut founded Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, which he grew to more than 30 locations before going bankrupt.

After his bad fortune, Callebaut started over and founded Master Chocolat.

The chocolatier was the first North American to be bestowed the honour of “l’Ordre Internationale de la Gastronomie Francaise”, recognized by the French Government for outstanding contribution to the culinary arts.

– David Wylie

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Shower thoughts

Paper actually has six sides, but we don’t realize it until you start stacking it.

People will eat a whole pan of bread sticks but won't eat the crust off a pizza.

Some stranger somewhere still remembers you because you were kind to them when no one else was.
 
You made it to the end! Here's your reward :)
Shoot us an email at hello@okanaganz.com with the name of your favourite cannabis strain or product for an entry to win one of our exclusive oz. toques! We'll be making the draw live on Instagram on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 4:20 p.m. PDT.

hello@okanaganz.com

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