While the industry is abuzz with the legalization of cannabis set for October 17, much attention is being paid to what government retail outlets will look like, and the products they will sell, along with the differences in legislation between provinces. However, what has been lost in the excitement is the value of Canada’s already existing medical framework, which has already provided support to close to 300,000 patients.
Canada’s ACMPR includes patients who suffer from chronic pain, mood disorders, PTSD, symptoms associated with cancer and chemotherapy, and many more conditions. Clinical research continues to pour into online databases supporting the treatment of a wide range of conditions, asserting that cannabis remains as a viable treatment option for patients that have exhausted other traditional medicine.
Upon the recreational legalization of cannabis, Canada stands to benefit from an extensive and expanded medical framework. Patients, working in tandem with healthcare practitioners, continue to need the support of professionals, and find guidance on their journey with cannabis.
The need for collaboration with healthcare professionals
The medical market for cannabis remains unique compared to the recreational market, and those considering abandoning the medical market post-legalization should use caution.
The therapeutic benefits of cannabis continue to be best communicated by a physician, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist rather than a “budtender.” Despite some perspectives suggesting that doctors don’t need to work alongside their patients who are medicating with cannabis, the conversation surrounding medical cannabis in Canada has just begun.
It would be highly problematic for Canadians to search out advice on how to medicate serious medical conditions with cannabis from those serving users at recreational dispensaries. These conversations need to be had in tandem with professionals. Taking doctors out of the cannabis conversation leaves new patients stranded, alone to search out information on cannabis from sources that cite anecdotal evidence or are rife with misinformation.
Patients have found healing from their serious medical conditions with the help of cannabis, and these patients continue to need the guidance of healthcare practitioners. These professionals are the ones who can make educated decisions regarding a patient’s health while taking into consideration a patient’s current and past medical history, as well as their current treatment plan.
Patients utilize different cannabis products and consumption methods
Patients consume cannabis differently compared to recreational users, opting for edibles, vaporization, or even tinctures. Doctors require further research and clinical trials to best advise patients on how to consume their medicine, but there currently exists many options for patients to utilize this medicine that doesn’t include inhaling harmful smoke. Further, the cannabinoid CBD is emerging as an attractive option for patients who wish to medicate without impairment. THC offers its own therapeutic benefits, as CBD is non-intoxicating, making waves as an avenue for patients to take advantage of the therapeutic values of cannabis and live normal day-to-day lives.
Cannabis is a complicated medicine to dose and prescribe, and the perspectives on cannabis vary greatly from physician to physician. Some healthcare practitioners cite a lack of clinical evidence, claiming that there isn’t enough clinical research to support the efficacy of cannabis. While cannabis is a new medicine in comparison to traditional medicine like opioids, it doesn’t change the fact that cannabis therapy comes with an extremely low potential for overdose and addiction, something that opioids simply cannot boast.
Recreational legalization changes the cannabis conversation
The questions on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis are endless, but recreational legalization will ultimately lead to more answers than questions. Many doctors across the globe struggle to offer cannabis to patients who seek this form of therapy. Recreational legalization in Canada promotes further normalization of cannabis globally, lifting boundaries on clinical research, paving the way for even more jurisdictions across the world to follow in the footsteps of Canada’s cannabis journey.
Cannabis is a non-traditional medicine in nature, with no one size fits all approach. What works for one patient doesn’t work for all, but the pros continue to outweigh the cons. Rare forms of childhood epilepsy have been successfully medicated with cannabis therapy, and new research supports that cannabis can reduce the polypharmacy of patients.
Paving the way for research on medical cannabis
There is already extensive research supporting cannabis as a means to manage chronic pain, quell seizures attributed to epilepsy, and address mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Legalization ultimately changes the conversation between patient and health care practitioner, and in the long term, doctors will be pointing to literature that supports cannabis as a medicine, rather than citing a lack of clinical research.
There will always be a market for recreational use, but Canada will likely see an expansion of its patient-base post-legalization. Canadians will be exposed to cannabis on a grand scale, normalizing its existence, shedding its status as an illegal drug and opening the floodgates for new research supporting its use as a medicine. Software tools like Sail are aiding in the challenges that many physicians face when dosing and prescribing cannabis, simplifying the cannabis journey at the point of care.
While the two industries remain quite different, the recreational market stands to learn from an established industry that saw its inception in 2010, helping patients improve their quality of life with cannabis.
Prad Sekar is the CEO of Sail Cannabis.
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