Canadians choosing to use marijuana for medical purposes will now be getting their treatment from a new source. Gone will be the small time home growers. In their place will be large industrial growers overseen by Canada Health.

The $1.3 billion initiative will allow for factory-grown medicinal quality marijuana that can be purchased with a doctors prescription for up to a year. The plants will be grown under standardized conditions that meet government-mandated requirements for security and sanitization. Some growers have already announced plans to grow the weed with varying levels of THC to address different needs.

Currently, medical weed is allowed to be grown by approved individual growers who were only legally allowed to supply the drug to a max of two patients. Under the new system, growers will be able to satisfy the needs of significantly more patients, which is expected to drop the future price to as low as $3 per gram of dried buds although prices are starting at $7.60 per gram, more than the current going rate of $5 per gram.

The new marijuana free market operated by Canadas health department, called Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation, began its roll out earlier this week and is expected to ultimately bring the number of Canadians registered to use medical marijuana from 40,000 up to 450,000.

Cannabis has been used around the world to treat numerous medical conditions including nausea and vomiting especially due to cancer treatments, chronic pain and glaucoma. Its also been found to show benefits as an anticonvulsant, a muscle relaxant, and as an appetite stimulant in people who are HIV positive.

According to Medical the ratio of lethal to effective dose of marijuana is around 40,000 to 1. Its also believed to be significantly less addictive than many other currently legal drugs.

Still, marijuana remains illegal in many countries for medicinal and recreational uses. Even in countries and states where it is approved for medicinal needs marijuana remains illegal for recreational purposes. This illegal nature may be to blame for the current dangers in that the drug is grown under secretive conditions and people desperate for the treatment risk criminal prosecution.

A number of studies have been done by well-respected medical institutions that have shown the benefits of the drug and the number is growing with researchers looking at the effect of medical marijuana on diseases such as Alzheimers, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and sleep apnea. According to NORML, more than 60 health organizations worldwide support providing legal access to physician-supervised medical marijuana.

Still, the number of reputable studies remains few and far between. In the United States, all marijuana used for medical studies must come from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Proponents believe more research may be what is needed before the treatment becomes more widely accepted worldwide. This may also be what is needed for different and safer delivery systems are widely used such as vaporization, pills and sprays.

Perhaps Canada could serve as a new example for other countries worldwide to learn from. At least for now, many growers and patients say theyre excited about the new opportunities.

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