Medical Cannabis FAQ



In October 2018, the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations came into effect, legalizing the use of non-medical cannabis for adults in Canada as well as updating regulations pertinent to the access to, and use of, medical cannabis.

In the fall 2022, an Expert Panel was appointed by the Minister of Health and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to conduct 5-year review of the Cannabis Act. The Cannabis Act Review included a review of access to medical cannabis and is underway throughout 2023.

Interested stakeholders can provide feedback by contacting the Expert Panel and the Health Canada Secretariat office.



Research is essential to increase clinical understanding and scientific knowledge of cannabis.

Partnerships between academic centres, community-based organizations and industry partners can develop new and innovative products, bring changes to clinical practice, public health and healthcare policies, prove truths or dispel myths and may result in new treatments or cures for disease (or better management).

Medical cannabis research has been ongoing for several decades. This field of research includes many disciplines such as botanic, biochemistry, epidemiology, and clinical research working to advance the understanding of cannabis impact on humans.

There are several clinical research studies looking for participants. Participation in all research projects is always voluntary.

Active clinical research projects in Quebec include:

For this study, investigators hypothesize that administering different doses of THC alone, CBD alone, and THC and CBD combined will result in a significant beneficial effect on spasticity relief compared to placebo.

This study will evaluate the use of MC against CMP among adults and aims at: 1-Describing the use of MC in Canada, and the main characteristics of users and prescribers; 2-Identifying the therapeutic and adverse effects of MC from the users' perspective; 3a- Identifying the psychosocial, organizational, socio-demographic and health-related factors that influence the use and prescription of MC; and 3b- Quantifying the impacts of these factors on the use and prescription of MC in the management of CMP.

The current study will investigate the neurobiological basis of cognitive change associated with 28-days of cannabis abstinence in people with psychosis and non-psychiatric controls with cannabis use. 

The purposes of this study are 1) to determine if the administration of different low doses of oral CBD (20 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg and 200 mg) result in detectable subjective pleasant drug effect compared to placebo and 2) to qualitatively explore whether low dose of oral CBD is associated with effects that are not detected with the available research tools.

This Phase II clinical trial will evaluate the effects of different cannabis oils on cancer-related symptoms or cancer treatment in adult participants with a life expectancy of 4 months or more.

This phase II placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial is investigating the effects of a cannabis oil on the agitation symptom in dementia due to Alzheimer disease in adult participants with moderate to severe agitation.

Quebec-based PurCann Pharma is collaborating with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and Dr. Pierre Duquette from the Centre de recherche du CHUM (CRCHUM) in a study evaluating the potential efficacy of cannabinoids in relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Participation in research can be fulfilling. Participants can feel rewarded by knowing they contributed to the progress of science, feeling part of a community of people interested in medical cannabis, learning and reflecting more about medical cannabis, taking more of an active role in their health.



The following answers to common medical cannabis questions may support patients and professionals in Quebec.



What is medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis refers to cannabis products that are specifically developed and used for medical purposes. All products contain cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) which are unique therapeutic molecules that support many of our bodies processes.

Medical cannabis products include cannabis oils, extracts, capsules, and edibles that are taken by mouth, as well as inhaled products like dried cannabis and vapourizers and topical products like creams and gels.

Medical cannabis requires authorization by a doctor or nurse practitioner. Access to medical cannabis has been legal and regulated in Canada since 2001.

What is the difference between medical and non-medical (recreational) cannabis?

Medical cannabis is taken for a specific therapeutic purpose and is monitored by a healthcare professional.

There are many specific medical cannabis products that are not available at the SQDC, such as specific medical formulations and formats of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids developed for therapeutic purposes.

Recreational cannabis is not intended for medical use and sellers cannot provide medical advice. Products are not eligible for insurance coverage or income tax deduction.

What symptoms and conditions could be treated with medical cannabis?

Medical cannabis is not an approved prescription drug; therefore, healthcare professionals make a decision for your individual needs based on available evidence.

We list the following as symptoms and conditions that medical cannabis has shown to have some benefit.

· Pain

· Chronic pain syndrome

· Neuropathic pain

· Cancer pain

· Nausea

· Lack of appetite

· Spasticity

· Inflammation

· Anxiety and anxiety disorders

· Depression

· Insomnia

· Chronic gastrointestinal disorders

· Digestive issues and spasms

· Neuropathy

· Spinal cord injury

· Multiple Sclerosis

· Arthritis

· Epilepsy

· HIV/AIDS wasting syndrome

· Migraines

· Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For more information, speak to your medical team, or contact one of our clinic partners.

What are the risks of using cannabis for medical purposes?

Cannabis is a relatively safe product, but it is not without risks. Individuals who have health conditions or take medications face a higher risk. Older individuals, children and young adults, and people who are pregnant or breast-feeding may be at even higher risk and should consult with a trained healthcare professional before engaging in medical cannabis treatment.

Adverse effects or undesirable side effects depend on the product and dose that is taken and can be mild or more severe. Studies have shown that side effects reduced when patients are supported and monitored by a trained healthcare professional.

How do I access medical cannabis in Quebec?

All doctors and nurse practitioners in Quebec can authorize medical cannabis in accordance with the guidelines from the Collège des médecins du Québec.

However, many healthcare practitioners do not have sufficient training or do not feel confident or comfortable to assess patients for medical cannabis or to provide personalized product recommendations.

There are dedicated medical cannabis clinics which serve patients across Quebec and are available to support patients. Review our list of clinic partners to find one that meets your needs.



What services are available at medical cannabis clinics?

Medical cannabis clinics provide an assessment for medical cannabis via consultation with a doctor or nurse practitioner. They provide personalized recommendations and treatment plans, as well as patient education.

Some medical cannabis clinics run studies and clinical trials that you may be eligible to participate in. Other clinics also offer training for doctors, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals.

What information do I have to provide in order to become a patient?

To find out the specifics, contact the clinic directly. You may be asked to submit either a referral from your primary care doctor, specialist or nurse practitioner or you may be eligible to submit a self-referral or supporting documents that confirm your medical condition.

What is the waiting time for a 1st appointment?

Review the clinic’s website or contact directly to find out. Medical cannabis clinics aim to provide efficient, patient-centered care and some can offer appointments within a few weeks.



Are there fees to receive service from a medical cannabis clinic?

Some clinics are public, therefore no fees for appointments with presentation of your valid Quebec health card (RAMQ card). Other clinics are private and charge a fee for each consultation or a membership fee.

Check the website or contact the clinic to find out more.



Does my health card cover medical cannabis?

No, unfortunately medical cannabis is not covered by any public provincial prescription drug insurance (RAMQ)

There are some private insurance plans that provide partial or full coverage, and also coverage via certain public agencies such as Veterans Affairs Canada, Emergency Responders and Workplace Injury agencies such as the CNESST.

However, all medical cannabis products purchased from a licensed medical cannabis seller may be claimed as a medical expense when you file your taxes.

There are certain cannabinoid-based prescription drugs (example, Nabilone) that are available in pharmacy and are covered by the RAMQ as well as many private insurance plans.

Which private insurance covers medical cannabis?

You can contact your insurance company to obtain more information, as it highly varies between plans.

Many private insurance plans now cover medical cannabis products (dried cannabis or oil), such as Health Spending Accounts within certain group benefit plans.

How much does medical cannabis cost?

The cost of medical cannabis is individual, depending on your needs. Prices also vary by Licensed Seller* and by the strain of dried cannabis, type of product and quantity prescribed. Some patients can find relief with as little as $50 per month while others may spend $300 or more. On average, $100-150 per month can be expected.

After your consultation with the doctor or nurse practitioner, the clinic will support you to choose your Licensed Seller considering your health needs and budget.

*Certain Licensed Sellers have special programs that offer discounts for patients with low incomes, pediatric patients, and senior citizens.



Is cannabis legal?

Medical cannabis is legal for all patients who are authorized by a doctor or nurse practitioner and non-medical cannabis (often referred to as recreational) is legal in Quebec for adults 21 years of age and older.

Can I purchase medical cannabis at the SQDC?

The SQDC does not sell medical cannabis and representatives are prohibited from providing any medical or health advice to customers.

Cannabis products purchased at the SQDC are not eligible for insurance coverage or tax deductions.

Cannabis products sold at the SQDC may differ from medical cannabis products in terms of cannabinoid concentrations or product formats.

Can I get a prescription from my doctor and fill it at the pharmacy?

There is a specific process for access to medical cannabis that requires a specific authorization document, referred to as a ‘Medical Document’ to be completed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. The authorization must then be sent to a Licensed Seller of Medical Cannabis who will complete a registration process with each patient. Once this is completed, registered patients can order products to be shipped to their residence by mail or by secure courier.

Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to order products from your pharmacy.

Medical cannabis clinics support this process to improve the accessibility for patients.

If you are interested to provide feedback to Health Canada, we recommend that you send an email to the Expert Panel that is responsible for the current medical cannabis policy review. You can find more information on Health Canada’s website.

Why do I need an authorization for medical cannabis if cannabis is now legal?

Cannabis is complex like your health, and it is important for many patients to be supported by qualified and trained health care professionals to ensure that their use is safe and effective.

There are certain protections for patients authorized to use medical cannabis, including consideration in the workplace, public use, and eligibility for insurance coverage and income tax credits.

It is not recommended that medical cannabis be purchased from the SQDC and such protections are not available for non-medical (recreational) cannabis.

Can I take medical cannabis while in hospital or long-term care facilities?

Hospitals and institutions in Quebec are required to accommodate your use of medical cannabis. However, conditions depend on the policy of each centre. Medical cannabis clinics are a great resource centre to provide support and answer your questions.

If I take medical cannabis, can I still drive?

Medical cannabis can cause impairment. It is recommended to wait at least 4 hours after consuming inhaled cannabis and 8 hours after ingesting oral cannabis preparations before working in safety-sensitive jobs.

Please note that these are general guidelines and reactions to cannabinoids, especially high concentrations of THC, are variable. You may feel impaired for longer and should ensure that you monitor your level of impairment.

If you’re relatively new to medical cannabis use (a year or less), you should take extra caution to assess impairment levels and err on the side of safety.

Can I grow my own medical cannabis?

With a specific medical cannabis authorization, medical cannabis can be grown at home in Quebec. Under Health Canada regulations, you may grow your own cannabis (personal production) or authorize a close contact to grow on your behalf (designated production).

Without specific authorization from Health Canada, it is not legal currently to grow cannabis at home in Quebec.

Contact a cannabis clinic to find out more information.



Thank you to our Associate Member Santé Cannabis for the support of this webpage.