With Canada's recent legalization of recreational cannabis, many observers and industry experts alike believed that it would lead to a sharp reduction of the amount of people accessing the country's medical marijuana program. But physicians are saying things are otherwise.
"Recreational cannabis will lead to the demise of medical cannabis? It's actually been the opposite," Dr. Hance Clarke—Director of Pain Services at Toronto General Hospital and a University of Toronto professor—told the National Post.
Demand is also increasing for information about medicinal cannabis.
"Canadians…want guidance, they want to know how to navigate this stuff," Clarke added.
He also said that despite the fact that cannabis is now freely accessible to adults in Ontario, nearly three-quarters of all the patients he sees at his pain clinic seek medical marijuana treatments. He believes that the legalization of recreational cannabis has actually led to increased curiosity about the substance for medical purposes.
The Canadian Medical Association has stated several times they believe Canada's medical marijuana program should be shelved and patients should be left to source their medication from the recreational markets. Patients, however, are not so keen on this idea.
Rob Frid - a spokesperson for Medicinal My Way, a medical marijuana advocacy group - explained that many patients are uncomfortable using any medication without the advice of a healthcare professional. This is especially the case for those who have multiple prescriptions and are concerned about the way their drugs will interact.
"You get rid of the medical side…and you're running into potentially some serious issues," Frid said.
Aside from the developments inside Canada, the medical marijuana markets are beginning to grow on a global level too. Now that nearly 30 countries worldwide have legalized medicinal cannabis, opportunities to export cannabis are increasing rapidly.