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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 comp-attorneys.com los angeles, 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

Get Cannabis Covered Under Your Health Benefits

Get Your Cannabis Covered

As many of you have already experienced, we’ve had continued success over the past 12 months in establishing coverage for medical cannabis under major health insurance plans.

We would like to ensure that this service is offered to anyone using cannabis therapy. Please contact us if you have health benefits through your employer, or are covered under a spouse’s plan and wish to have medical marijuana considered for reimbursement as part of your entitlements.

Once successfully approved, your insurance company may cover up to 100% of the cost of dried medical cannabis or cannabis in oil form.

Many patients have reported better outcomes without having the financial stress or burden associated with paying for their medicine.

Feel free to extend this offer to anyone else you know that may be interested.


  • NO COST, FEES or COMMITMENTS associated with the process
  • Simple, fast and pleasant. It can take as little as one week to determine coverage
  • You qualify regardless of where and with which Doctor you received your current cannabis authorization
  • If your cannabis prescription is expired it may be renewed as part of the process
  • All your information is kept 100% confidential

Please contact us early to begin the process as the clinical staff will work on the order of
requests. Special consideration will be made for patients that have difficulty affording
cannabis therapy. We can be reached by email coverage@plantsnotpills.ca or phone at
1-844-473-6060 or text message 519-317-7701.

Alternately, click here to fill out our coverage registration form and a Plants Not Pills team member will be in touch with you shortly regarding the next steps towards getting your cannabis covered. 


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. See more info at monderlaw.com.

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.

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Why Cannabis Stimulates the Appetite

Top view of group of people having dinner together while sitting at the rustic wooden table

One of the most common effects of cannabis is appetite stimulation, which for some patients, may be one of cannabis’s most important benefits.

Hunger, Cannabis and the Brain

Inside the incredible hard wiring of our brains is an area called the hypothalamus that is tightly packed with neurons (cells that directly communicate messages to our nervous system). Every millisecond of every day, the hypothalamus is regulating the body’s basic processes, including heart rate, sleep cycles, temperature, sexual impulses and hunger by picking up signals from the organs and turning them into hormones.

In addition to neurons, the hypothalamus also contains cannabinoid receptors. According to findings published in the Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome Journal, “The activation of central CB1 receptors, particularly in hypothalamic nuclei and in the limbic system, is involved in the regulation of feeding behavior, and especially in the control of the intake of palatable food.”

A 2012 study published in the science journal, Neuropharmacology confirms that, “THC increases sucrose palatability,” a probable explanation for why cannabis use often results in cravings for sweet foods.

For patients suffering from a dysfunctional hypothalamus as a result of head trauma or a genetic disorder, THC can be a game-changer. The same goes for cancer patients whose hypothalamus has been compromised by chemotherapy and resulted in extreme appetite/weight loss.

Appetite stimulation is vital to many patients’ health, but it must go hand-in-hand with an emphasis on nutrition. Though the body’s natural impulse may be to reach for sweets, it is essential that anyone with a compromised immune system stock up on nutrient-rich foods to promote to aid in the establishment of optimal health.

For patients in need of strains high in THC, we recommend the licensed producer, CannTrust. Not only does CannTrust carry a wide variety of affordable dried cannabis strains, but they also have THC Drops, THE ONLY pharmaceutical STANDARDIZED cannabis oil ideal for patients who prefer an alternative to smoking their medical cannabis. For questions about CannTrust’s THC strains or cannabis oils, feel free to call their customer service department at 1-855-794-2266.

For help with medical cannabis licensing or to sign up for a free medical cannabis consultation, please register on our website using the promo code PLANTS710.

Sweet Embrace Smoothie


By Kirsten O’Brien

The term ‘gut health’ hardly paints a pretty picture, but any medical professional will tell you that it is vital to your well being. This is because the ‘gut’, otherwise known as the ‘digestive tract’, is essential for supporting and maintaining your immune system as well as processing all the foods, both good and fried, that you put in your body. If you are suffering from intestinal problems, it is crucial that you make careful choices when it comes to your diet. Among the key elements to a healthy gut are bacteria cultures that aid in the digestive and eliminative processes. In the spirit of maintaining a clean and flourishing digestive tract, below we have shared a medicated morning smoothie recipe featuring a THC/CBD strain called Embrace from our favourite label – D.S. & FITZ.

Embrace is an ideal choice for many patients suffering from inflammatory issues in the gut as CBD helps reduce inflammation and THC can help with pain or discomfort. This recipe also features Greek yogurt and flax seeds, which are staple ingredients in any gut-conscious diet.

Sweet Embrace Smoothie

1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt

½ of soy milk

¼ cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1 tbsp of flax seeds

2 tsp of all natural honey

0.5 grams of medical marijuana (Embrace by D.S. & FITZ)

Decarboxylate the marijuana. This is essential for the marijuana to have any effect when put into any edible.

How to Decarboxylate: Preheat the oven to 240° F. / 115° C, and break up the cannabis using your hands into smaller pieces if it is not already in small pieces. Place the marijuana evenly in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Once the oven is fully pre-heated, bake the cannabis for 60 minutes. Keep a close eye on the colour of the cannabis as it should be darker or a medium/light brown when it is finished. It shouldn’t feel wet, and should be fairly crumbly when you pick it up. Carefully grind the cannabis so that you are left with a finished product that is coarsely ground.

Combine the ingredients in a blender, including the marijuana, and blend until desired consistency is reached.

If you would like information on how to access the best medical marijuana strains for your health condition, please contact us by email at info@plantsnotpills.ca or call 1-844-473-6060

Clean and Green Medical Marijuana Usage

Go Green

By Kirsten O’Brien

Safe disposal of medical marijuana containers is important as your marijuana is a controlled narcotic. The following are some basic guidelines for how to be clean and green when disposing of your medical marijuana apparatus.

Clean Out Containers
After removing (or ingesting) the marijuana that was in your container, it is important that you turn it upside down and tap it on a hard surface. This is done in order to remove any leftover debris from the buds themselves so that they do not end up spreading to the other garbage. Once you have removed most of the debris from the container, rinse it with warm water. If you are concerned about smell, a quick wash with some dish soap should help to get rid of any sort of smell.

Remove Personal Information
It is important to remove any personal information from the outside of your container. The easiest way to do this is to completely remove all labels from the containers themselves. By soaking your containers for a few minutes in hot water, the labels should be easily removable. If you cannot remove the labels themselves, you can use a permanent black marker to black out any personal information on the labels.

Most medical marijuana prescription containers are recyclable, and can be put in with the regular recycling for pick up.

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

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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 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 


Plants Not Pills Greatest Hits

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At Plants Not Pills there is nothing we love more than hearing from people whose lives have been changed by cannabis therapy. Our patients mean the world to us and we are thrilled they have given us permission to share their stories with our readers. Here are a few of the amazing transformations we’ve been privileged to hear about in the past few months…

“As of today I’ve been pill free for just about 2 years now since a started to stop taking my pill and a full year with no pills at all. I’m down 110 lbs and I have recently moved in with my boyfriend to start the next chapter of my life.  Also, I’m now just met with and occupational therapist who is going to try and work with me to getting back out in the working world. I hope I can help people the way that you help me. I just want to give back. I’m so grateful for all the help and support.” Michelle W.

“I reached out to Plants Not Pills about a year ago, the catalyst being that I was about to embark on a new challenge at work moving to a new role at a multinational company. Though this presented an opportunity for more reward, there is also more risk. That being said, when you have a family and all the responsibilities and pressure that come with it, sometimes you need to step outside of your comfort zone and take those risks. I have always struggled with anxiety and the physical challenges in can bring along with it, insomnia, lack of appetite, shallow breathing, clenching my jaw (which help bring on migraines) all of which only make the anxiety worse and send me down a slippery spiral. When I reached out to you last year I was managing my anxiety with Ativan, and though it would help with the sleep, the anxiety would come rushing back when it wore off.  I was really excited to take on a new challenge and be successful (which helps with my self confidence, which help with my anxiety, etc…) but was concerned with how I would manage all the new pressures at work. As mentioned at the time, I just didn’t think I could manage. I am happy to say that the past year using cannabis instead of prescription drugs has proven to be all we thought it would be. I have not renewed my Ativan prescription in over a year, and I haven’t had a migraine since November. More than that, I am extremely proud of my success at work. I am consistently ranking as one of the performers on my team and am getting ready for another exciting year. As per your recommendation, a strong Indica at the end of the day helps me unwind, think clearer, calmly solve problems and manage my stress. An Indica edible ensures a solid night of rest. I have found some great hybrids and some sativas that are great for my headaches. I attribute much of the success I am having to being able to manage my anxiety better and calmly solve both my personal challenges as well as customer challenges at work.” – Tom D.
“I would like to take this time to bring somethings to your attention about Plants Not Pills. Every since I have started dealing with this clinic I have nothing but amazing things to say. Since the start I have been treated like a friend and not just some patient of the clinic. The staff who answer the phone are so courteous and respectful I am very comfortable to call the clinic no matter the issue. One member I would specifically like to recognize is Kirsten O’Brien. I have dealt with Kirsten with all my issues and she has been more then amazing to deal with. No matter the request Kirsten is on top of it with an answer for me immediately. Every time we have spoke she has been upbeat and positive and just perfect person to deal with. The staff and doctors at this clinic have made it so comfortable for myself and other patients who use your services to access our medication and any advice or help we need in regards to it, an that is something hard to find. From myself I thank you so very much for all you do for me to make this path a easy and fun adventure, and I look forward to the future with Plants Not Pills.  Chris T.
“I have had a few questions throughout this process and I feel I must say that Kristen ( hope I spelled that correctly) is absolutely amazing!!  So nice, helpful, passionate and knowledgeable!!  Between the both of you I honestly feel you are making the lives of sooooo many people better.  I thank you both from the bottom of my heart!!!” Tom M.


If you are a Plants Not Pills patient and would like to share your own Cannabis success story, then please email us at info@plantsnotpills.ca . 



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.


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.


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