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The Origins of Prescription Opioids

Plants Not Pills

The search for a perfect painkiller is as old as humankind. For thousands of years ancient societies pressed herbs and flowers to try find a cure for chronic pain, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the discovery of a “miracle drug” changed the course of history like no other drug before.

In the early 1800s, a pharmaceutical assistant named Friedrich Wlhelm Sertürner began experimenting with opium poppies in northern Germany . By then it was well known that the sap from opium poppies could provide effective pain relief. The problem was that not all poppies (or sap for that matter) are created equal. Sometimes the sap wasn’t strong enough. In other cases it was so strong it would prove fatal. What Surtürner discovered was that by isolating a specific alkaloid found in opium, he could administer pain relief in precise doses.

A new drug was born: morphine.

In 1827, the owner of the Engel-Apotheke in Darmstadt, Germany, Emanuel Merck, began to supply morphine on a large scale. The success of his venture led to the foundation of the Merck pharmaceutical company, the first in what would become one of the world’s most powerful industries. Soon afterwards, doctors discovered that injecting the liquid morphine provided quicker and stronger results. The Civil War created an increased demand for the powerful analgesic. From that time on, morphine became a staple on battlefields around the world. Before long it had penetrated the civilian population. Beverages containing morphine were widely sold in US pharmacies. In 1897, a chemist at the Bayer company found and patented another morphine derivative called “Heroin” which was widely used as a cough medicine for children. In addition to opioids, Germany was quickly becoming the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, importing almost all of Peru’s production of the raw stuff for processing and sale.

The reason for Germany as the hub for pharmaceutical production was that it had (and still has) a high concentration of chemists and engineers. Germany also desperately needed to build up a powerful homegrown business that did not rely on foreign imports. Unlike Great Britain, France or Belgium, Germany did not have colonies to rely on for commerce.

World War I would prove another boon for the pharmaceutical industry (war always does), but it had some unexpected after shocks. Addiction to opioids and amphetamines sky rocketed around the world. At the time, pharmaceutical companies were happy to keep up with demand. Not coincidentally, this is the era when we find the first pharmaceutical lobby groups starting to align themselves with politicians, particularly in the US, to ban cannabis, a substance deemed amoral and deadly.

Ironically, long before opioids entered the mainstream market, cannabis in dried and oil form was sold in pharmacies to relieve migraines, indigestion and other common conditions. To give it a more foreign sounding and nefarious connotation, US politicians, with the help of the media, adopted the colloquial name for cannabis used by Mexican immigrant workers: marijuana. Ad campaigns against the substance featured immigrants and minorities, a way of making sure it was associated with race and bred discrimination. In the 1940s, cannabis was federally banned in the US, but opioids in all their ever changing forms have remained legal to this day. The same companies continue to flourish and sell prescription opioids rich in oxycodone. Merck famously supported lobby groups that tried to block legislation limiting the prescription of Oxycontin. 

But Canadians now have an alternative to opioids in the form of medical cannabis. Unlike opioids, which are responsible for thousands of fatal overdoses across Canada each year, there has yet to be a single death recorded as a result of cannabis use. In addition Licensed Producers are far more regulated than pharmaceutical companies and offer safe, effective cannabis in dried, oil and topical forms.

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis under Canada’s ACMPR guidelines, then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca

Claim Your Cannabis As a Medical Expense

Claiming Cannabis As A Medical Expense

Don’t forget to claim your medical cannabis as a medical expense when you do your 2016 taxes (due on or before April 30, 2017). Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Get Your 2016 Receipts

Most Licensed Producers (LPs) have a section on their websites where you can view your past orders and print your receipts. If you can’t find it, please contact your LP directly as it is their legal obligation to provide you with your receipts.

Step 2: Fill Out Your Tax Forms

When you fill out your tax forms, make sure you include the total amount you spent on medical cannabis over the course of the year on your 2016 tax return.

A complete rundown on claiming medical expenses can be found at Canada Revenue Agency’s Website.

For more information, please email info@plantsnotpills.ca or call us directly at 1-844-470-6063

Why Licensing Will Matter When Legalization Happens

Tax Free Medical Cannabis

Anyone who lives in Ontario understands the burn of having harmonized sales tax (HST) added to nearly every retail purchase. Even when we don’t see the tax, it’s still there. Booze is a perfect example. On top of the LCBO’s significant mark up on imported wines, HST is also added into the price. The result is that what amounts to a $4 bottle of wine in Spain mysteriously turns into a $30 bottle once it hits Canadian shelves. We mention the LCBO because by many accounts (and if Premier Wynne has her way), this is the model the government will implement on recreational cannabis once it is legalized.

On the other hand, medical cannabis under a “Shopper’s Drug Mart” framework will likely be treated as all other medications which by law do not incur any federal taxes. Therefore, medical marijuana license holders may enjoy significant savings in this respect, though in many ways they already do considering they have access to strains for as little as $3,50/gram, compassionate pricing programs and are able to claim their medical marijuana as a tax deductible expense.

Recently, a high profile case has brought up another highly likely scenario: medical marijuana license holders may qualify for partial or even full insurance coverage of their medical marijuana. Imagine…millions of Canadians being able to treat their myriad of health conditions without paying a dime out-of-pocket for their safe, natural medicine…. Now wouldn’t that be something?

If you or a loved one would like to start accessing safe, effective medical cannabis then contact Plants Not Pills by clicking here or email info@plantsnotpills.ca. Use the promo code Health17 and enjoy a $25 discount off all fees associated with licensing.

Season’s Greetings from Plants Not Pills!

Season's Greetings from Plants Not Pills!

Season’s Greetings from Plants Not Pills!

With the holiday season approaching, Plants Not Pills wants to make sure you are giving yourself the gift of amazing cannabis. This is why we’ve put together a short holiday guide below featuring all the newest, stand out strains that our patients and staff have been raving about.

If you or someone you know is not yet licensed, please note that Plants Not Pills is currently offering a $25 dollar discount on its admin fees. Simply register with the holiday promo code HAPPY16 and we will automatically subtract $25 off any admin fees associated with licensing.

If you feel like trying any of the strains below, please contact patientservices@nlphysicians.com or call 226-456-1497 and we will help you add or switch your Licensed Producer free of charge.

From all of us at Plants Not Pills, we wish you the best of health and a very Happy Holiday Season!

Buddha Haze
(THC: 18%, 0.4%)
CannTrust
$10.50/gram This strong sativa, THC- dominant strain is getting great reviews as a second-to-none sleep aid.
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Platinum Mint Cookies
(THC: 17-20%, CBD: 0.1%)
D.S. & FITZ
$12.00/gram Platinum Mint Cookies is an OG Kush and Durban Poison premium hybrid that takes its users to euphoria’s top floor.
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Blueberry Kush
(THC: 16%, CBD: 0.4%)
CannTrust
$10.50/gram A potent Indica for those looking for a rich body buzz and serious pain relief. Serious relaxation guaranteed!
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Great Bear
(THC: 16%, CBD: 0.4%)
Aphria
$5.99/gramCurrently Aphria’s strain of the month, Great Bear is an effective and economical sativa dominant, high THC strain… 
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Embrace 
(THC: 6.1%, CBD: 9.8%)
D.S. & FITZ
$8.00/gram A Sativa-dominant strain, Embrace is known for its ability to relax without sedation, to relieve without …
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Wilbur
(THC: 2.5%, CBD: 5.88%)
Aphria
$7.20/gramA vigorous THC/CBD sativa dominant strain that is a perfect pick-me-up for the winter blues and also an effective strain for pain relief…
Learn More

Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR)

Health Canada

By Kirsten O’Brien

The new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) has sparked a flurry of questions and debate. Here is a basic breakdown of what the ACMPR entail and what they mean for Cannabis users across Canada.

On August 11, 2016 Health Canada announced that the current MMPR regulations will be replaced by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purpose Regulations (ACMPR). These regulations include new guidelines for patients to be able to grow their own marijuana for medical purposes, or designate someone else to grow their cannabis for them. Patients will still be required to hold a valid prescription from a physician when growing their own medical marijuana, and purchase their plants/seeds through a Licensed Producer.

There have already been a lot of conversations going on between physicians and patients alike, wondering just what this will mean for patients in Canada. The only real difference is the allowance for patients to grow their own cannabis. The number of plants a patient will be allowed to posses will correlate directly with the number of grams per day that they are prescribed, as well as the location in which they are growing. Patients will still be required to have a valid medical marijuana prescription, no different than the prescriptions that are currently being issued.

Some important things to consider about these new regulations:

Cost

The savings for any patient are negligible. Medical marijuana can currently be purchased for as low as $2.75 per gram. The cost of growing can be much higher if a patient chooses to grow indoors as well.

Quality

Patients will be unable to have their strains tested which means that the exact amounts of THC/CBD will not be determinable. Licensed Producers are required to test their products for not only the THC/CBD content, but also contaminants. This may lead to a strain being much weaker than anticipated and/or full of contaminants, which will make it a less effective or even harmful medication.

Safety

There are several safety concerns with patients growing their own medical marijuana. Contaminants (i.e. mold), electrical fires, and an increased risk for burglary are all things that need to be considered when choosing to grow your own cannabis.

Physicians

Physicians need to be able to closely monitor their patients that are prescribed medical marijuana in order to work on future treatment plans. If a patient is only using home-grown marijuana, it will not be possible for their physician to provide any insight on future treatments. As the home-grown strains cannot be tested, it would be difficult for a doctor to determine exactly what a patient is ingesting and make future treatment recommendations.

Time

Growing marijuana can be a time-consuming endeavor. Not only does it take months for the plants to grow to maturity, they require a lot of care and a close eye in order to produce anything that could be consumed as medication. Maintenance of both the setup and the crop can take many hours per day to ensure that the medication does not become contaminated or completely useless to the patient.

It is important to keep in mind that until August 24, 2016 these new regulations are not in place, so the only legal way to obtain your medical marijuana is through one of the Licensed Producers. You are still required to have a valid prescription from a health care practitioner, and you still cannot legally purchase from any dispensary or compassion club.

If you would like information on licensing, Register Today at www.plantsnotpills.ca or contact us by email at info@plantsnotpill.ca

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Medical Marijuana and Safe Pesticide Use

Ladybugs are used as a natural pesticide by many Licensed Producers as they kill aphids and spider mites.

By Kirsten O’Brien

One of the most common arguments against medical marijuana is the use of pesticides in its cultivation, yet many people are unaware that Medical Marijuana is tested rigorously before it is sold to patients. In the event that one particular crop tests too high for pesticide levels, every plant in that crop must be destroyed. If a licensed producer is found to be using unapproved pesticides, they run the risk of not only having to destroy their crop, but also losing their license for production and sale. To give you an idea of which pesticides are approved by Health Canada, we’ve compiled a detailed list along with descriptions of what they do.

Fungicides

Fungicides are pesticides that fill or prevent the spread of spores of many fungi that can attack a cannabis plant. The fungicides that are currently approved for use are:

  • MilStop® Foliar Fungicide
  • Actinovate® SP Fungicide
  • Rootshield® HC Biological Fungicide Wettable Powder
  • Rootshield® WP Biological Fungicide

Insecticidal Soaps

Insecticidal soaps are pesticides used to control small pests that would normally eat the cannabis plants. Insecticidal soaps have a very low impact on mammals, which is why they are considered safe for use on plants consumed by humans. The insecticide soaps that are currently approved for use are:

  • Opal Insecticidal Soap
  • Kopa Insecticidal Soap
  • Neudosan Commercial

Predatory Bugs

Predatory bugs are insects that eat only the pests that would damage the cannabis plants themselves. Depending on which pest is found on the plants, different predatory bugs are used for each one. Orius insidiosus (commonly referred to as the insidious flower bug) will aggressively hunt for mites, aphids, and other pests that can completely destroy crops. After the pests have been destroyed, the predators are left to die off and removed from plants before sale.

If you have any questions regarding Medical Marijuana cultivation or licensing, please don’t hesitate to contact Plants Not Pills at info@plantsnotpills.ca or call 1-844-473-6060 

 

Legalization of Cannabis in Canada

Cannabis Canada

By Kirsten O’Brien

With the announcement of the legalization of cannabis coming to Canada in the spring of 2017, many are wondering exactly what legalization will look like. This week, we are taking a look at the different aspects the government needs to consider and what legalization might look like next year.

Dispensaries and Licensed Producers

In most major cities across the country, dispensaries have been spreading far and wide. In Toronto ON there has been an explosion of Dispensaries in the downtown core. With the influx of these illegal set ups, many speculate that they are hoping to be “grandfathered in” as the way to access marijuana locally. As this week’s raids of nearly 40 dispensaries in Toronto suggests, the government is not going to make it easy for these outfits to be part of whichever legalization model it eventually proposes.

On the other hand, Licensed Producers are also hoping to have a foot in the recreation market, as they are able to provide Canadians with high quality product. Licensed Producers are also required to follow strict guidelines when cultivating their cannabis, providing medical marijuana patients with added confidence in the strains they are purchasing.

Medical Patients

Many are wondering what the medical marijuana system will look like when legalization comes to Canada. One view is that legalization will open doors for medical marijuana patients. There is speculation that more insurance companies will be paying for medical cannabis for patients as it becomes increasingly de-stigmatized and more prescriptions are written. This would help thousands of patients who are currently unable to access medical marijuana on a regular basis due to its cost.

Growing

We are currently awaiting the new regulations surrounding medical cannabis patients and growing their own marijuana. Currently, only MMAR patients who had the correct documentation at the time that MMPR was introduced are allowed to grow their own cannabis. With legalization approaching, it is possible that permits to grow cannabis may make a comeback, which many patients are hoping for.

However, growing comes with its own associated risks as well. There are concerns surrounding theft of plants and marijuana, as well as things like mold, disease, and pesticide use if people are going to be allowed to grow themselves. Growing cannabis may be allowed, but there may also be very strict regulations surrounding private cultivation.

Licensing

Regulating access to cannabis is going to be the biggest challenge that the government has to face. Who will be allowed to buy it? Where will they be allowed to buy it? How much will they be allowed to buy? Currently, medical marijuana prescriptions have strict regulations regarding the amount a patient is allowed to possess at any given time. Recreational users may also be required to apply for a license to possess marijuana after it is legalized in order to protect children and other vulnerable persons from obtaining marijuana.

There is also the question of age. Will the legal age for marijuana be 19 as it is for alcohol? There is also the chance it could be 25 as many studies have shown the THC can have a negative impact on a developing brain. Or will there be no age restriction for purchasing? If there is a restriction on purchasing, age will certainly be a factor in that restriction.

Legalization is a much more complicated issue than simply possession of marijuana. There are many moving parts that make up the new regulations that will be coming next spring. As advocates for legalization celebrate their sizeable victory, they are also preparing for the much larger battle of helping to shape the future of marijuana in Canada.

Interested in obtaining your Medical Marijuana license to start accessing safe, effective medical marijuana? Register today at www.plantsnotpills.ca 

The Story Behind 4/20

420 new

By Kirsten O’Brien

April 20th is a phenomenon in marijuana culture. Commonly called “4/20”, it’s the ultimate celebration of all things marijuana across the globe. Many will partake in smoking/vaping in public, or gather at rallies to support recreational legalization. With each year, 4/20 festivals grow larger and larger now that marijuana is going mainstream.

The History

No one is sure where the term “4/20” actually came from. Stories about its origins vary, with several claiming that 420 was the code police officers used for marijuana. Others say that it is the number of chemical compounds found in marijuana.

The most plausible is a story published in High Times a few years ago. A group known as “the Waldos” claims that 420 started as a code for their meeting spot when they were in search of a marijuana crop in their hometown – San Rafael, California. Eventually the group stopped looking for the crop after several failed attempts, but the term stuck as a code for teenagers who wanted to meet and smoke marijuana after school. It is said to have evolved from this point forward thanks to The Grateful Dead and their connections to The Waldos, and is now known as the socially acceptable time to consume marijuana.

Observing 420

In most places, 4/20 is just like any other day. However, there are festivals held in cities across the world to celebrate marijuana. In recent years, Glasgow, San Francisco, and Vancouver have been home to large 4/20 celebrations in which thousands gather and partake, without much protest from officials.

Celebrations on April 20th are often about advocacy for marijuana and those who chose to use it. Large marches show solidarity and support for those who are still victimized by an out-dated legislation built by the “reefer madness” misinformation propagated in the 1930’s.

The Importance

Over the past two decades, 420 has become a brand with marijuana related products like edibles, vaporizers and shops appropriating the number for commercial gain. Signs are frequently stolen as a result of the number 420, especially in Colorado, a state where marijuana is legal for recreational use. Officials even went as far as to re-brand one street “42x Street” to keep future signs from being taken.

“420 friendly” is also used by many searching for roommates online to let their prospective renters know that they are okay with marijuana use in their home.

4/20 has become a day of activism in countries and states where access to marijuana (even for medical purposes) is severely limited and stigmatized. This day brings enthusiasts together to celebrate marijuana as a symbol of social freedom, a relaxant and a medicine.

The Allard Case & MMPR

Allard Case

By Kirsten O’Brien

February 24th 2016 was a game changing day for medical marijuana patients. In a federal court ruling, Judge Michael Phelan stated that the current Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations are an infringement on the charter of rights.

Who does this case effect?

This case directly effects approximately 28,000 Canadian patients who possessed the appropriate licenses during the time that the regulations changed and medical marijuana patients were no longer allowed to grow their own plants.

This case also effects current MMPR patients that are wishing to grow their own medical marijuana, and did not possess a proper license to grow personally at the time that MMPR was introduced.

What does this mean for patients wishing to grow their own medical marijuana?

For the next six months, the Liberal government is responsible for revising the current MMPR to include regulations for patients who wish to grow their own marijuana, and those who were previously allowed to grow their own medical marijuana. Currently, MMPR patients are still only able to legally purchase their marijuana through a licensed producer.

Judge Michael Phelan also ruled that a previous injunction should be upheld, allowing patients with an existing personal production license to continue to produce their own medical marijuana. This injunction stopped the destruction of many personal producers which would have been forced to destroy their plants when MMPR came into effect just two years ago. This injunction only applies to those who have a previously approved personal growing license and limits their possession to 150 grams (the maximum amount allowed for any medical marijuana patient at any one time).

For now, medical marijuana patients are waiting for the revision of the regulations. Though the future is uncertain, many are hopeful that all patients will be permitted to produce their own marijuana.

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Dispensaries Vs. Licensed Producers

Marijuana-Producers-Canada

By Kirsten O’Brien

Dispensaries are a hot topic in the world of medical marijuana. There are two sides to every argument, but the fact is that these unregulated establishments pose a huge risk to patients and potential patients. Here are some of the key differences between Licensed Producers and Dispensaries.

Quality

The quality of the marijuana sold by Licensed Producers is monitored closely by their highly trained professional team of growers and Health Canada. Licensed Producers are not allowed to sell products that have been treated with pesticides, have been found to have mould, or that are grown out of their specially built green house facilities. Each crop is tested and inspected before it is ever made available for patients.

The origins of the medical marijuana found in dispensaries is never clear. It is not known where the marijuana is grown, how it is grown, or the exact content of the plants. When tested by Health Canada in the past, there have been several varieties of harmful industrial pesticides found in this marijuana.

Customer Service

Licensed Producers pride themselves on their customer service. Every agent you will speak to knows the ins and outs of each strain offered by the licensed producer, as well as the safe consumption of medical marijuana. They are able to make suggestions based on symptoms and patients with similar cases. They are knowledgeable and consistent in their service.

Dispensary staff are not necessarily trained to answer customer questions. Often times they are not well versed in the products that they offer, nor do they understand the symptoms of patients.

Pricing

Licensed Producers sell medical marijuana for approximately $3.00 to $15.00 per gram. Some offer compassionate pricing to accommodate fixed income patients.

Dispensaries have comparable prices, but again are unregulated and not consistent.

Legality

Licensed producers are the only legal way to purchase medical marijuana in Canada. They are regulated by Health Canada.

Dispensaries are 100% illegal. They are not in the “grey-area” they claim exists. They also pose a danger to both inexperienced and experienced patients alike.

Protect yourself and your license by only purchasing from licensed producers.