The short answer: maybe.

Cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in Canada since 2001, but you may feel more comfortable considering it in your treatment plan now that recreational use is also legal. And there’s growing evidence that for some people, cannabis use has effectively helped to manage a variety of symptoms related to arthritis, such as chronic pain, anxiety and sleeplessness.

But while cannabis is available from more sources now, your chances of benefitting will be better if you work with your doctor and go through the government’s medical cannabis process, rather than just buy recreational cannabis from a store and try it yourself. Your doctor can work with you to determine appropriate kinds of cannabis product and dosage for your symptoms, and monitor and adjust it to help you gain the positive impacts you’re looking for. They can also help identify if medical cannabis is something that wouldn’t be appropriate for you because of other health concerns.

Not only that, but going through the medical process also gives you more rights and legal protections as a patient than just buying the recreational drug, and may also help ensure you have more reliable access to the product you need.

There’s a lot we still don’t know about cannabis. We’re already funding research in this area, and calling for more research to improve our understanding of cannabis, so we can help patients and doctors make more informed treatment decisions. But learning more about what we already know can help guide your choices.

A good place to start is by reading our newly updated brochure, Medical Cannabis: A Guide to Access, which can be found on our website at arthritis.ca/medicalcannabis. While you’re there, check out our other resources as well – they’ll help give you a better understanding of both the science of medical cannabis and the process for accessing it for medical use as part of your treatment plan.