Cannabis as Medicine: What Happens When You Can’t Find The Products You’ve Come to Rely On

Lucy Burchell

As cannabis becomes a broader method of treating medical conditions, patients are starting to become frustrated when they find something that works for them and it becomes unavailable. The beauty of cannabis, is that it’s a natural plant; it’s not a formulated, mass produced chemical. It is grown and harvested and sometimes extracted, but it’s not lab made. The downside of of cannabis is actually the same aspect as the upside; when something grows and is natural, we are at the mercy of the plant and its process, which sometimes means that it’s not available.

At dispensaries, budtenders can’t always “special order” strains or products because it takes months for cannabis plants to grow, be harvested and be ready for consumption. Some strains grow easily and abundantly, some strains are trials and end up being too difficult to grow continuously, and sometimes cultivators don’t have enough room to have all of their strains growing at one time and need to cycle them out. Even tinctures, vape cartridges and other concentrates are subject to this limitation. They can stay fresh for longer, and be stored, but are still strain specific and can only be made when the strains they contain are growing and available.

So what do you do if you know something works for you and you can’t get it? At Storehouse, we hear patients every day say things like, “When will you have Pink Unicorn? It’s the only thing that helps my migraines” or “The Dixie 1:1 compound helps my back so much. When will you get it back in?”. It’s a completely valid concern. You can go to CVS whenever you want and buy ibuprofen and neosporin, but will there ever be a time where you can get your cannabis medicines just as reliably?

Dispensaries and cultivators have certainly become aware of this concern and are looking into ways to ensure that patients can consistently have access to the products they need for healing. Maryland has only been a medical state for a little over a year, so dispensaries are just starting to get consistent feedback on the strains and products that people use the most frequently. At Storehouse, we do not have a cultivation, so we order our product based on what is made available to us from other cultivators. Since we opened in August, we’ve started paying attention to what people ask for the most frequently and what people put in our customer request log. For example, we know that many people rely on the Sunmeds CBD strains such as AC/DC and Shark Shock, so we try to have these strains on hand whenever we can.

On a cultivation level, we’ve heard from a few places that they are going to start growing their most popular medical strains in abundance and stockpiling them so that patients never have to worry about getting a hold of their medicine. We were recently informed by Culta that they are going to start trying this technique with their Willie’s Reserve CBD products and strains.

Karly Ziegler, Culta’s Field Marketing Manager, said that with help from Willie and the Willie’s team, they have more resources to grow and process the flower specifically for his line of products. This makes it easier to have these products on hand. Karly also mentioned that one of the challenges with growing CBD flower is that the plants grow much bigger than the higher THC yielding plants, and therefore take up more room in their cultivations. She mentioned that expansion was on Culta’s radar and that a bigger cultivation would help with this problem a well. The Willie’s Reserve products offer less impairing relief for various different conditions such as headaches, anxiety and body pain. They have flower options as well as vape cartridges for people who are looking for a more discreet option.

The issue of cannabis being treated more like medicine is a complex one, with many facets. Obviously, availability is only one of the multiple concerns that patients have about their cannabis resources. With the federal status of cannabis still being illegal, people do not have access to the other resources that they are offered with traditional treatment plans such as insurance, disability discounts, and 24/7 access to what they need. Hopefully as the industry matures and laws change, these concerns will be addressed with patient expectations in mind.