As of this writing, there are more than 25 authorized Licensed Producers under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). These are the only businesses legally authorized to produce and sell medical cannabis to the public in Canada.

If you and your healthcare practitioner have decided that medical cannabis is a potential treatment option, the next step is choosing a Licensed Producer (LP). Submitting a completed medical document to an LP is necessary to access, possess and use medical cannabis legally. Some patients choose to register with multiple LPs as a precaution against a potentially inconsistent supply of medicine. But be aware that each LP will require a separate, original medical document completed your healthcare practitioner.

Your choice of LP is important. This is the source of your medicine. You deserve the highest quality, reliability and consistency. Before you choose an LP, here are some things to consider:

Variety of strains. Some LPs offer just a few strains of cannabis. These businesses may be appealing to an audience that is inexperienced and perhaps intimidated by what they see as a bewildering range of choices offered by other LPs. Also, the LP may have limited production facilities and therefore have no alternative than to offer the few strains they can grow consistently.

Other patients, however, appreciate and see an advantage in working with an LP that offers a wider variety. Patients commonly report different effects consistently associated with particular strains of cannabis. A wider variety allows the patient and healthcare practitioner greater ability to match a strain with a set of symptoms.

Customer service. Although cannabis may have been used as medicine for thousands of years, its legal and clinical acceptance in Canada is still relatively new. That means lots of questions from both healthcare practitioners and their patients. A good LP is ready with clear, specific answers. The best offer 24/7 online and phone support, putting you into direct contact with helpful representatives trained in the selection of medical cannabis and dedicated to making your experience as satisfying as possible.

Physician incentives (“kickbacks”). Although deemed unethical under physicians’ codes of ethics in many provinces, it is not unknown for cash incentives to be offered to physicians for recommending a specific LP to patients. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend a particular LP for all the right reasons, but if he or she seems close-minded about considering other LPs, you may want to seek opinions from other physicians as well. This is your health, and it’s your right as a patient to choose the LP that you feel will best meet your needs. (Note: CMCC was created in part as an association of LPs that pledge not to offer kickbacks.)

Compassionate pricing. A number of LPs offer substantial discounts to seniors and to those on fixed incomes. In addition, some extend credits to first-time patients and those who renew their service. All these factors should be taken into account, along with the LP’s standard pricing.

Regarding standard pricing—most LPs have a relatively wide range, based on factors such as strain, THC/CBD percentages and physical form (e.g., whole flower vs. pre-ground or milled product). At this time, prices typically range from $3 to $14 per gram. Of course, it’s important to find an LP with the medicine, selection and quality you want, at a price you can afford.

Consistent supply. Cannabis cultivation, while controlled as precisely as possible, is still farming, and so subject to naturally occurring variations from crop to crop. A good LP, however, will make every effort to ensure a steady supply of popular strains, as well as offering variety. In addition, LPs are required to test each batch to accurately determine percentages of THC and CBD, and some now provide information on other cannabinoids and terpenes in their strains

It comes down to you. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing an LP is that this is a decision affecting your health and wellbeing. Accordingly, there are many factors to consider other than just finding the lowest price. You want prompt delivery, secure packaging, helpful and easily accessible customer service and consistent quality.

Always feel free to contact potential LPs directly and ask them about their history, policies and why you should give them your business. You’re your time, do your homework and choose wisely, because ultimately, finding the right fit means having a trustworthy and reliable partner to work with in your healthcare regimen.