Tag Archives: medicinal cannabis

Picture of BC Compassion Club members and staff

Making Medicinal Cannabis More Accessible: The BCCCS’ Legalization

This fall, Canada will enter its 3rd year of cannabis legalization. You might have noticed recreational stores popping up everywhere. Yet, according to the StatsCan 2020 Canadian Cannabis Survey, only 41% of respondents report making a purchase from a legal government-approved storefront. Where do the other 59% go? Learn why medicinal cannabis users still prefer storefront medicinal dispensaries like the BCCCS, and what we’re doing to preserve this model of operation, as we move toward legalization… 

The Problem with Obtaining Medicinal Cannabis

On October 17, 2018, cannabis became federally legal for both sale and consumption. Yet, three years in, the medicinal market seems to have been left by the wayside. Even with the currently approved system, many people still find it impossible to obtain reliable and affordable cannabis medicine.

Currently, the only way to access legal medicinal cannabis is through licensed producers (LPs) and their government-approved websites. This still requires you to obtain a letter of approval from a physician or nurse practitioner. Licensed medicinal suppliers will still charge 10%-30% over what would be considered affordable or accessible pricing (average retail price is $10.30/g for dried flower, StatsCan 2020). You also need a credit card or PayPal account to order online and an address where it can be delivered by Canada Post or a similar mail courier.

As many of you know, this method of online access does not work for all medicinal users. BCCCS members are often low-income. Many of our members do not have reliable internet access, do not own credit cards or bank accounts, and some even struggle to find a permanent, fixed address.

The current medicinal system fails to address those barriers to access, and therefore, leaves behind a large segment of the most vulnerable cannabis users. Patients often resort to the black market, which carries many risks, or they use recreational stores that provide little insight into how cannabis should be used for medicinal purposes. 

Why Websites Will Never Replace the In-Store Experience

Even as other options have become readily available, such as obtaining your prescription cannabis from a government-approved pharmacy, many medicinal cannabis users still prefer unregulated dispensaries like the BC Compassion Club. The question is, why?

Some of it may have to do with the lack of cannabis knowledge and expertise on the part of physicians and pharmacists. Because of cannabis’ long-held illegal status, medical practitioners are often woefully undereducated about cannabis consumption and medicinal use. A survey of hospital pharmacists in Canada reported that almost half of respondents did not feel comfortable giving advice to patients on the use of medicinal cannabis.

Add to that, the difficulty of obtaining a physician’s referral and the stigma still attached to cannabis use, and you can see why many patients have resorted to using recreational stores, even though pricing is usually 30 to 50 percent higher than unregulated providers or the black market.

Sadly, using black market cannabis comes with serious risks, such as exposure to tainted products that could be mixed with unknown, harmful substances, potentially harmful side effects because of the unknown origin of the product, and undesirable interactions with existing medications. That’s why unregulated, but legally-abiding dispensaries like the BCCCS, are seeking to legalize, to remove the need for black market purchases, while keeping pricing and cannabis quality consistent and reasonable, within the storefront model that our members have come to know and love.

In fact, research proves that brick and mortar stores are still preferred by most medicinal cannabis users. Patients with complex medical issues require staff with strong product knowledge, who can offer in-person consultations, and give recommendations on various cannabis products. Studies show, cannabis users prefer cannabis suppliers with strong product knowledge (71%), followed by a welcoming feeling (52%), products offered at reasonable prices (75%), and for respondents aged 55+, overall product quality (62%) (Deloitte , 2018).

Medicinal users need a physical storefront where patients can seek advice on strains, dosages and safe methods of consumption.

Our Appeal to Health Canada

As part of our mission to provide accessible, affordable, high-quality medicinal cannabis, we are asking Health Canada to approve a third option for medicinal users – to legalize, or at least provide exemptions, that would allow us to continue operating our storefront dispensary as we move toward compliance with cannabis regulations. We look to legalization to ensure that our services and products are reliable, and available, without the fear of closure or police interference.

An established cannabis provider like the BCCCS could become the new model for compassionate cannabis care, where we can offer product sales, cannabis education, one-on-one consultation, and advocacy on the patient’s behalf, and we are currently working with Health Canada to make that a reality.

This will involve renovations to our retail space, proper COVID-19 protocols and procedures (which we already have in place), city licensing permits, new product packaging that complies with legal standards, and we are also looking into purchasing the building that holds our current dispensary location, so that we can continue the good work that we have already achieved and serve our community members for years to come. 


Right now, there are few organizations that cater solely to the medicinal cannabis market. Our aim is to obtain our Health Canada licensing using the same patient-focused, non-profit dispensary model that allows us to serve those who cannot currently access the legal cannabis system. And though the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slowdown of this process, we are moving toward legalization, and with some patience, we will get there. As always, we thank you all for your continued support!

Want to find out how you can help? A little goes a long way… Help support our advocacy, club activities and member services. Check out our donation section on our website.

Or contact us for more information at 604.875.0437 or at info@thecompassionclub.org



Photo of kitten and dog on grass

CBD Oil and Pets: What You Need To Know Before Buying

Pets are an important part of our lives, and some of the closest friends we have. It’s difficult to see them in pain or distressed, and hard to know what to do when they are. While CBD oil is a popular product for people experiencing inflammation, nerve pain or anxiety, you may also wonder, can it work the same way for my cat or dog? Here is some information that can help you make a safe and healthy decision when it comes to selecting, buying, and using CBD oil for pets.

Is there anything CBD cant do? Its broad range of symptom relief and relative lucidity makes it a go to for members at the BCCCS. Turns out that pets love CBD as well! Just like humans, most animals have an inner endocannabinoid system that reacts to the intake of cannabis, which explains why CBD can give the same symptom relief as it does in humans.

However, there are several cannabis products that should not be considered viable for pets, and many of the pet CBD oils you see on the market are, in fact, not strong enough to provide much relief. So, before you go out and buy, it’s important to understand how CBD affects your pet, as well as other cannabinoids like THC.

The Potential Benefits of CBD for Pets

Giving medication to pets can be complicated. Pets trust us with their safety, but they cannot tell us, nor can we understand, exactly what they’re going through. We’re often making the decision for them when we give them something new, like medications. Because of this, it’s important to know that what we’re giving them is effective, safe, and has as few side effects as possible.

CBD is a fantastic fit for all three of those requirements. It’s a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is cultivated from cannabis, and it helps with symptoms like chronic pain and IBS, and can provide life changing pain and symptom relief. When taken with a small amount of THC, ideally THC-A, the positive effects of CBD oils are even more noticeable.

But be cautious. High levels of THC can be toxic to your pet. Look for a high CBD product with minimal amounts of THC-A. Our 20:1 CBD to THC-A MCT Coconut Oil is a perfect example of what to look for. It won’t make your pet sick or high and it’s the main product we recommend when asked about CBD for pets, though MCT oil has been known to cause digestive upset in some animals.

Be cautious when using any CBD product and always take into consideration your pet’s general health and any special health concerns before administering any CBD oils.

CBD Dosages for Cats and Dogs

When it comes to CBD oil for pets, follow the recommendations given by your veterinarian, and follow the instructions on the bottle or those given to you by your trusted cannabis supplier. Our table below gives you some general dosage guidelines for medium-sized pets of the mammal variety, primarily cats and dogs. Smaller mammals like rats, gerbils or ferrets, or non-mammals like reptiles or birds, will have different needs around dosing. Ask your vet for details.

CBD Oil for Pets: Dosage Guidelines 

Based on our 20:1 CBD: THC-A MCT oil (contains 0.5mg of CBD per drop)

A table for dosing CBD for cats and dogs

As for how often you should give CBD to your pet, there isn’t much research yet on the exact effects of CBD oil on pets, so it’s difficult to give hard and fast guidelines. A 2018 study on dogs with osteoarthritis showed the most effective dose for increasing mobility and easing discomfort was 2 mg per kg of weight.

Many vet blogs recommend dosing at least twice a day to see measurable results. However, it really depends on the animal in question, their health, weight, age, and any current medical conditions. It’s crucial to start with a small dose. Then monitor your pet’s reactions, positive or negative, and adjust from there.

For separation anxiety and fear issues, we usually recommend giving the medicine 30 minutes prior to onset of anticipated behaviour. As for how long it will last? This Healthline article on CBD for dogs gives some good suggestion about how to tell if your pet’s dosage is adequate, and how to tell if they’re benefitting from the medicine.

You also need to be familiar with your pet’s normal behaviours and patterns. Know how to recognize when something is off. When your pet is taking CBD oil, watch for sudden changes in mood, physical activity and digestion. That doesn’t mean these changes are necessarily bad. They should be noted and considered, and as always, you can learn much about the health of your pet based on their bowel movements.

If any of these changes concern you, stop CBD oil treatment immediately and consult your veterinarian. Take note, a calming effect is sometimes experienced by your pet, but should not be mistaken for lethargy. CBD is also not a miracle cure. It will not aid all symptoms, and it may never get your pet to where they were before, though pain relief can make it easier for pets to move.

What to Look Out for

While CBD has caught on as an effective pet aid, there are a wide range of CBDs on the market. We recommend avoiding the following:

  • Hemp derived extracts – not as effective as cannabis derived products
  • Products that haven’t been properly tested for safety and cannabinoid count
  • CBD products that sell themselves as 100% cure-alls
  • High THC products! Make sure CBD oils contain a minimal amount of THC

Don’t trust the packaging. Anyone can print a label and slap it on a product. It’s important to work with a trusted and consistent cannabis supplier. Learn what has worked for others in your community and develop an active understanding of where to look for reliable products. 


Just like humans, pets can receive all kinds of benefits from CBD oil, yet CBD may or may not be a good fit for your specific pet. Any cannabis use requires the same considerations as any other medication. Be mindful of what to expect and search for a product that is safe and effective for use in pets.

If you have any further questions about CBD, pets, or general information around medical cannabis, please feel free to reach out to us by email at: info@thecompassionclub.org or by phone 604-875-0437.

** Please note: The information in this article should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a medical professional or veterinarian. If you are considering CBD oil for your pet(s) please ask your vet about potential side effects. Many vets may not feel comfortable giving advice on cannabis. In that case, you may want to consult these helpful articles about CBD oil for dogs and CBD oil for cats.