Seniors may be the fastest-growing age group to use cannabis, and the one most likely to do so for medical reasons, but this isn’t to say they don’t have questions or concerns. They might be worried about cannabis side effects and interactions with other drugs, or the possibility of cognitive impairment.
If their questions could be boiled down to one, it might be: Where can I get quality medical cannabis from a reliable source who will address all my questions and concerns?
Enter Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart Senior Care Service, with complete services and product lines aimed at the special needs of the elderly. As one of Canada’s most trusted names in the health retail space, Shoppers provides peace of mind for senior patients, ensuring they have all the information they need to make an informed choice, and making the process of acquiring medical cannabis as easy as possible.
Shoppers ensures that all its medical cannabis products meet the highest quality and safety standards, sourced from licensed producers. Registering is a simple process, involving a consultation with a licensed health care practitioner with specialized knowledge in medical cannabis, and obtaining a medical document.
“Since the start of 2020, we have seen more than 250% growth in demand from 65-plus patients seeking practitioner advice on medical cannabis,” says Larry Lisser. CEO of HelloMD the exclusive telehealth partner of Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart, and the leading virtual healthcare platform for medical cannabis in the country.
He points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred them to make access to medical cannabis products and information as simple as possible. “That's why we have re-engineered our processes and platform so that seniors can enjoy the safety and convenience of virtual health services, but without the frustration that technology can sometimes present,” Mr. Lisser adds.
Registering to get the necessary medical document to receive medical cannabis from Shoppers is an easy 1-2-3 process:
Step 1: Welcome Call
On the Medical Cannabis by Shoppers Drug Mart for Seniors site, anyone 65 or older, or their caregivers, can sign up for a consultation, filling in the patient’s name, age, province, email and phone number. Soon after, the senior receives a phone call from the friendly Shoppers team, gathering some personal information and medical history, and then arranging for a consultation with a licensed health care practitioner within a couple of business days.
The consultation can either be done by telephone or Zoom videoconference. “Before the pandemic, a senior might have gone first to a clinic or to see a doctor to get information about medical cannabis,” says Mr. Lisser. “But now they are used to do doing video calls with their grandchildren, so that’s an option we provide. We have patients as old as 94 who talk to us this way.”
Step 2: Practitioner Call
The call or video session with the HelloMD licensed health care practitioner is the heart of the cannabis-ordering process. The practitioner is very knowledgeable in crucial aspects of medical marijuana, including interactions with other medications, contraindications, and much more.
Mr. Lisser points out that it is the job of the health care practitioner to “give real advice, and a specific, targeted plan with specific recommendations.” It’s not their job to rubber stamp requests for medical marijuana, as unfortunately sometimes happens elsewhere.
It can also be a mistake to turn to a recreational cannabis retail outlet hoping to find medical-grade cannabis and appropriate advice. “I’ve gone into dispensaries just out of my own curiosity and I can tell you there is sometimes an 18-year-old telling someone, ‘This is what you should use for rheumatoid arthritis, this is what you should use for your anxiety, this will help you sleep,'” says Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital and a member of the Shoppers Drug Mart advisory board on medical cannabis. “And I’m just like sitting there [thinking], ‘I must be in outer space.’”
First, the HelloMD health care practitioner will take the time necessary to answer the questions of the elderly patient. Some of the typical questions asked include:
- What are the benefits of medical cannabis for my condition?
- What are the side effects?
- Does it affect depression, sleep or appetite?
- Do you have recommendations for specific strains a dosages to manage my particular symptoms?
- How do I take medical cannabis?
- When should I take medical cannabis?
- How long will it take until I begin to feel any effects?
- What are these effects and how long do they last?
- Will medical cannabis replace other medications that I currently take for my condition?
- Will it affect my everyday activities?
- How long does a prescription last?
If the health care practitioner determines that medical cannabis could benefit the patient, then they will make specific recommendations about strains of cannabis and even specific brands of medications, dosing guidelines and much more.
Then the practitioner produces a medical document. Similar to a prescription (but legally different), the medical document authorizes the patient’s use of medical marijuana and allows them to place orders through Medical Cannabis by Shopper Drug Mart.
The practitioner passes on this authorization and all the relevant patient guidelines and information to the Shoppers Cannabis Care team.
Step 3: Shoppers Call
Once authorized, a Shoppers pharmacist will give the patient a phone can. The pharmacist can answer any further questions the senior has and then help the select the best medical cannabis products for them, according to the provided guidelines, from Shoppers extensive and growing medical cannabis inventory.
The pharmacist will help the senior patient place their order and arrange for home delivery. (For legal reasons, it’s not possible to go into a Shoppers Drug Mart retail location to shop for or pick up medical cannabis in person.)
The medical document will include an expiry date (often three to six months but as long as year in some cases) and an allotment — how much of the medical cannabis the patient is allowed to buy. For example, if the dose is one gram a day, the patient might be allowed to buy 30 grams of cannabis or the oil equivalent for a month’s supply.
The process of buying medical cannabis through Shoppers Senior Care is designed to be easy, informative and give seniors access to promising new treatments the common health issues they face.