CALGARY – Calgary will soon be home to Alberta’s first medical clinic solely dedicated to providing access to medical marijuana. The 420 Clinic will be located in Inglewood, and operators hope to be open by the end of March. The clinic is not a dispensary, and no marijuana will be kept on site. Instead, the 420 Clinic will help patients navigate new federal rules around how medical marijuana can be accessed.
“Basically a patient will come here and we help them through the Health Canada process,” explained Jeff Mooij, director of operations for the 420 Clinic.
Under Health Canada’s medical marijuana program, patients must first obtain a medical document from a qualified healthcare practitioner. In Alberta, only physicians are able to provide such a document. Once a document is obtained, patients must register as a client with a licensed producer before being allowed to place an order. Marijuana orders are then shipped in dried form to a patient’s home using Canada Post. Patients are only allowed to receive up to a month’s supply per order.
Although the 420 Clinic will be Alberta’s first facility dedicated to helping patients access medical pot, the Oasis Medical Centre in northeast Calgary also offers medicinal marijuana consultations.
Alberta’s College of Physicians and Surgeons advises doctors to discuss any potential risks associate with marijuana use before issuing a medical document. Those risks include the potential for psychotic symptoms, particularly for those with a family history of schizophrenia, lung and cognitive impairments. The college also asks doctors to warn patients that marijuana use could impact their existing life, disability or automobile insurance policies.
As for the benefits of medical marijuana, researchers like Dr. Matthew Hill believe the evidence is mixed.
“There’s certainly a need for more research,” the Hotchkiss Brain Institute scientist said.
“There are hints that cannabinoids like THC and cannabis could be beneficial for things like Multiple Sclerosis, inflammatory conditions, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.”
Studies have also shown that THC can help cancer patients who experience nausea caused by chemotherapy. On the other hand, Hill cautions, for some patients any marijuana use could be dangerous.
“For example, individuals who are at risk of schizophrenia, there seems to be a growing body of literature that smoking cannabis can actually precipitate the onset of the disease,” he said.
The Health Canada document “Information for Health Professionals” states cannabis should not be used in patients:
- Under the age of 18
- With severe cardiopulmonary disease
- With respiratory disease (including asthma and COPD)
- With severe liver or kidney disease
- With a personal history of psychiatric disorders (especially schizophrenia) or a family history of schizophrenia
- With mania or depression
- Who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- With a history of substance abuse
For more information about the 420 clinic, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.