Phyto-therapeutics is a term used to describe plant-made therapy. For millennia, people have used plants to manage both mental and physical conditions. In fact, well-known products such as aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) have ancient origins in natural, plant-made compounds. Today, the field of phyto-therapeutics has advanced significantly due to scientific and technological innovations that enable us to use plants, such as cannabis, to develop high quality and consistent formulations.
I am new to cannabinoids. How is the right formulation selected?
It is important to work with your healthcare practitioner as you begin cannabinoid therapy. Your healthcare practitioner will first assess the possible risks and benefits with cannabinoid therapy to determine if this is the right strategy for you. Once this is determined, your healthcare practitioner will provide you with an authorization to order a formulation that is tailored to your condition and needs.
Are cannabinoids addictive?
Cannabinoids should be taken with caution. It is recommended that individuals with no prior experience start at a very low dose. If you experience side effects, discontinue therapy and consult your healthcare practitioner, who may make adjustments in your therapy. Additionally, you may contact the ZYUS Patient Care Centre. The frequent and heavy use of cannabinoids may develop into a condition called Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD), characterized by symptoms of impairment or distress, health issues, increased use of cannabinoids and inability to fulfill day-to-day responsibilities. A person may be diagnosed with CUD if they have shown at least two symptoms over a period of 12 months. When the use of cannabinoids has a medium to severe impact on daily life, it may be considered an addiction. While the risk for addiction remains relatively low, we recommend that you continue to collaborate with your healthcare practitioner to develop proper management strategies and to monitor potential outcomes for addiction.
Are cannabinoids safe to take with medications?
Cannabinoids can interact with several medications. However, it has been found to interact more significantly with substances that slow down the central nervous system, such as alcohol. You are encouraged to discuss the use of cannabinoids when combined with other medications with your healthcare practitioner, along with any side effects you may experience. You may also contact the ZYUS Patient Care Centre.
Can cannabinoids help with my condition?
Your healthcare practitioner may authorize cannabinoids to manage a range of symptoms or conditions as a different model of care. Currently, there is strong evidence that cannabinoids can be taken to alleviate chronic pain in adults, nausea, vomiting and improve spasticity symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis. However, we strongly recommend that you consult your healthcare practitioner when taking cannabinoids. The therapeutic effects may vary depending on factors such as the product’s composition, frequency of use, and other factors.
Can cannabinoids be taken to cure cancer?
While the available data is insufficient to support cannabinoid therapy for cancer management, there is interest to explore its potential in this field. Currently, certain cannabinoids may be taken to alleviate nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy.
Can I drive while using cannabinoids?
According to the Criminal Code, impaired driving (the compromised ability to drive vehicles) to any degree due to alcohol, drugs or the combination of both is strictly prohibited. Even if you are legally authorized to take cannabinoids by a healthcare practitioner, you can still face penalties and criminal charges if your ability to drive has been impaired. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure you are not impaired while driving.
According to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)¹ , it is recommended to avoid driving for at least:
Six hours after inhalation.
Eight hours after oral ingestion.
If using daily, their serum THC level may be higher than legal allowable limits, even if they do not feel impaired.
Combining cannabis and alcohol seriously increases risk and should be avoided.
1. College of Family Physicians of Canada. Guidance in Authorizing Cannabis Products Within Primary Care. Mississauga, ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada; 2021.
Can I travel with cannabinoids?
If you are travelling within Canada, you are permitted to travel with cannabinoids. Ensure that you have your registration documentation and the authorized products stored in their original containers. You are responsible for learning the laws of the province or territory you are going to visit. If you take cannabinoids, please follow the laws in that jurisdiction. If you are travelling internationally, you are not permitted to travel with cannabinoids.
What amount of cannabinoids can I be authorized to order?
You are allowed to order up to 30 days supply of dried cannabis or the equivalent of other cannabinoid products. Your maximum amount is calculated based on the amount your healthcare practitioner recommends or 150 grams; whichever of the two amounts is lower.
For example, if your healthcare practitioner authorizes 2 grams of cannabis a day, the maximum amount of cannabis you can order is 60 grams at one time (2 grams x 30 days = 60 grams).
What is the best way to take my cannabinoid oil?
Draw your cannabinoid oil into a syringe and drop it slowly into your mouth (placing it underneath the tongue is not required). If you require more detailed instructions for taking your cannabinoid oil, please refer to the How to Take your ZYLEM Oil Formulations guide. You can take your oil with or without food, although we recommend taking it with a small amount food as it may increase absorption of the oil and could reduce side effects. Avoid taking your oil with citrus food or drinks as it could interfere with its absorption. If you have any additional concerns, please contact the ZYUS Patient Care Centre.
Can I apply the cannabinoid oil on my skin?
The oil is intended for oral ingestion and is not recommended for skin applications.
How do I store my cannabinoid oil?
You may store your cannabinoid oil at room temperature. However, if your cannabinoid oil freezes during transit let it sit at room temperature until it returns to a liquid state and shake before dosing.
Can I share my cannabinoid oil with family members?
The authorization of medical cannabinoids (including cannabinoid oil and other products) is strictly intended for the person authorized. Authorization is provided and issued by healthcare practitioners based on an individual’s health condition(s) and needs. Therefore, it is strictly intended for the person authorized.
What is a topical?
Topical formulations contain an active ingredient combined with a base substance, like an oil or cream, that allows the medication to be absorbed through the skin. Cannabinoids can be formulated as topicals for localized relief of pain, soreness and inflammation.¹ Because little is absorbed into the bloodstream, they are non-intoxicating, and are often chosen by patients who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids, without the potential side effects.
1. Bruni, Natascia et al. “Cannabinoid Delivery Systems for Pain and Inflammation Treatment.” Molecules. Vol. 23,10 2478. 27 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3390/molecules23102478.
Will using cannabinoid topicals make me high?
THC is the active ingredient in some cannabinoid formulations that can cause intoxication (a feeling of being “high”) when it is absorbed and travels to the brain. While some topicals do contain THC, very little is absorbed into the bloodstream¹, so topicals are unlikely to produce the intoxicating effects that can occur with other delivery methods, such as smoking or ingestion.
1. Hess, C. et al. “Topical application of THC containing products is not able to cause positive cannabinoid finding in blood or urine.” Forensic Science International. 2017 Mar;272:68-71. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2017.01.008.
What are the active ingredients in a topical?
Cannabinoids are the active ingredient in cannabis-based topicals. All topical products in Canada are required to list the total amount of THC and CBD on each container.
What is the difference between Oils and Topicals?
Your skin is the body’s largest organ. It is meant to protect you and does a great job of preventing substances - like cannabinoid oils - from penetrating through. That’s why you have to take cannabinoid oils by mouth so they can be easily absorbed and available to work all over your body. Topicals, on the other hand, are designed to penetrate through your skin to work in a limited area and provide local targeted relief. This focused effect of topicals is what makes them so handy and useful.
Are cannabinoids covered by insurance?
We recommend that you ask your insurance provider about your coverage for cannabinoids. At this time, ZYUS is unable to direct bill private or provincial plans, with the exception of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). However, ZYUS can provide you with medical receipts that can be submitted to your insurance provider. It is also important to note that products authorized and legally dispensed by ZYUS may be claimed as a medical expense for tax purposes.
How can veterans be reimbursed for cannabinoids?
According to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), eligible veterans may be reimbursed for cannabinoids as long as the medical authorization aligns with Cannabis Regulations. To determine if a veteran meets the Regulation requirements, a completed medical document issued by a healthcare practitioner is required along with a completed registration document from a federal licensed seller. Once approved by VAC, ZYUS will follow by submitting an application for approval directly to VAC. The maximum coverage limit is 3 grams per day for dried cannabis or the equivalent in cannabis extracts (including cannabinoid oil). If you would like to be reimbursed for quantities over 3 grams, additional information would be required.
To apply for this program, we require a copy of your Blue Cross card.
What are the main types of cultivars?
It is important to note that Sativa and Indica are not accurate classifications. Currently, there is no defined method to determine the exact genetic origins of a cannabis plant. Cannabinoids for medical purposes are often hybrids or have been bred for several years that make them distinct from recreational strain descriptions. In fact, healthcare practitioners rely on the THC and CBD concentrations of cannabinoid products rather than the cultivar types to determine your authorization.
What is the difference between hempseed oil and cannabinoid oil?
The main difference between these oils is the product source. Hempseed oil is extracted from the seeds or grains of hemp plants. They are exempt from the Cannabis Act as long as cannabinoids are not added during the production process and the concentration is below 10 parts per million. On the other hand, cannabinoid oil involves extracting cannabinoids from the leaves and flowers of the plant, which are then mixed with a plant-based oil to create cannabinoid oil. Since this oil may contain amounts of THC and/or CBD, it must comply with the Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations.
What is the difference between a licensed cultivator, processor and seller of cannabinoids under the Cannabis Act and a cannabis dispensary?
A licensed cultivator, processor and seller refers to a company licensed by Health Canada to grow and/or distribute cannabis and its products. They are carefully monitored to ensure public health and safety and are the only entities legally authorized to supply medical cannabis. On the other hand, cannabis dispensaries provide consumers with cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes. However, it has been found that very few dispensary staff possess formal medical training. Therefore, any medical recommendations given may be ineffective or inappropriate. Legal recreational cannabis stores across Canada can be found on corresponding provincial websites.
How do I choose a licensed cultivator, processor and seller?
Can I register with more than one licensed processor/seller?
Yes. You are allowed to register with more than one licensed processor/seller. However, you will need separate original medical documents for each. You cannot apply to more than one licensed processor/seller using the same medical document.
How can I transfer my registration to another licensed seller?
You can request to have your original medical document transferred from one licensed seller to another and the licensed seller must comply with the request.
Please note, transferring patients are required to complete the Patient Application Form, which is part of the registration process.
How long will my medical document be valid?
Your medical document is valid for the duration specified by your healthcare practitioner. If your authorization is due to expire and you find cannabinoid therapy is working well for your individual needs, visit your healthcare practitioner to renew your authorization.
Are laws related to cannabinoids the same across Canada?
The laws around the distribution, possession, and sale of cannabinoids may differ from province to province. The maximum amount of medical cannabis that one can order is calculated based on the amount your healthcare practitioner recommends per day x 30 days, or 150 grams; whichever of the two amounts is lesser. The provinces and territories of Canada have the flexibility to add restrictions within their jurisdictions. A brief summary of the rules can be found at Cannabis in the provinces and territories, on the Health Canada website.
Do cannabinoid products have an expiry date?
According to Health Canada, the expiry date of cannabinoid products must be included on the product label. If an expiry date has not been determined, this must also be indicated on the label.
How do I understand the label on cannabinoid products?
Cannabinoid products prepared for export, distribution or sale must meet the packaging and labelling requirements specified by the Cannabis Regulations. This is important because the Regulations prescribe what, where and how information must appear on the label of all cannabinoid products.
Standardized cannabis symbol
Brand name of cannabinoid-based product
Tested cannabinoid results per batch (THC and CBD content) Note: 1 gram (g) = 1000 milligrams (mg)
Health warning messages
List of ingredients
Contact information of the licence holder
Intended use of cannabinoid-based product
Cannabis possession statement
Information related to the manufacturing stage of the cannabinoid-based product
The date the cannabinoid-based product was packaged on
Expiry date (if determined)
The per activation is the maximum amount of cannabinoids an accessory (i.e. per 1 ml syringe) is intended to dispense.
What Federal or Provincial assistance programs are available?