Electronic solutions have emerged to track medical marijuana usage
September 29, 2016
Medical cannabis has received much attention in Canada and has been a topic of significant debate, due to expected changes in legislation. In the United States, the medical cannabis market has been flourishing with recent changes in regulations, and the option to consume medicinal and recreational marijuana in some states has made it easier to obtain.
Entrepreneurs have picked up on this and a burgeoning technology sector has been emerging around the ordering and delivery process.
In Canada, we are starting to see the nascent stages of this occurring under the new federal government, which is developing new legislation for medical and recreational marijuana.
Already, many startups and companies are providing medical cannabis through couriers and Canada Post – which has aroused some controversy. And due to the changing political climate, some entrepreneurs have felt emboldened to provide illegal services and storefront dispensaries.
On the technological front, online marijuana dispensaries have arisen in this evolving market.
Herbal Dispatch is an example of an online dispensary which accepts new members with a valid doctor’s recommendation, MMAR or who have a terminal/late stage illness.
Bruce Linton from Canopy Growth Corporation is the CEO of a medical cannabis growing company in Ontario. CGC has 20,000 patients and has been adding 1,000 patients per month, says Linton. The use of cannabis for chronic pain includes those with cancer, as well as those with neuropathic pain from diabetes, and people living with multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s or post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric conditions.
There are approximately 6,000 to 8,000 healthcare providers in Canada servicing this need. CGC foresees future opportunities to leverage technology in this market in EMR integration, e-verification, and plant inventory tracking.
Linton noted that companies hoping to participate in this market can target integration, distribution, and identifying active plant ingredients and their efficacies for particular diseases.
Mettrum is a medical cannabis growing company in Bowmanville, Ont., which sees legislation and technology as integral to the growth of the market.
Currently, they service 13,500 clients. Mettrum uses an e-verification service and a primarily online system for distribution. It is using a proprietary platform called the Cannabis Electronic Medical Records (C-EMR) system.
C-EMR handles client and physician registration, renewal, product selection and real-time pharmacovigilance reporting and medical research.
This C-EMR concept has the potential to be a powerful tool to bridge the gap between physicians and patients while improving accessibility.
Companies such as Herbsy (disclosure: powered by PopRx) have teamed up with licensed Canadian producers and have provided technology to facilitate delivery through brick and mortar dispensaries, as well as via major pharmacy chains.
Herbsy leverages a mobile application to break down barriers and to improve accessibility, enabling medical cannabis producers, pharmacies and medical professionals to better serve patients.
Pharmacies and dispensaries can partner with Herbsy and maintain accepted methods of prescribing generic medications (taking pictures of pill bottles or e-renewals) to offer a parallel verification and delivery service.
This is a highly debated topic and Canadian physicians and patients are watching the market evolve. Regardless of our opinions on the consumption of medical cannabis, Health Canada has licensed grower operations in Canada to fill a void in the market.
There are both private and public companies looking to create distribution channels for consumers. It will be interesting to see how the demand is satisfied and how technology is leveraged to serve these patients.