Much media attention has been focused lately on the possible legalization of marijuana in Canada but you may be wondering what exactly are the uses of medical cannabis?
According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey, marijuana use among adults over the age of 65 has increased significantly; in British Columbia alone more than 13,000 seniors are licensed to possess medical marijuana. Health Canada expects that medical marijuana sales will rise to $1.3 billion dollars a year by 2024.
Cannabis may help lessen symptoms of arthritis or other chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy treatment, glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, Chrohn’s disease, epilepsy, insomnia and HIV/AIDS.
Since 2001, medical cannabis has been a regulated industry governed by Health Canada and only licensed producers can supply dried or fresh marijuana or cannabis oil to patients with a registered “prescription” from a health care practitioner.
Medical cannabis differs from illegal marijuana because it is grown in a controlled environment and is tested for bacteria, moulds and metals. It is consistent in its active ingredients allowing patients to keep more accurate track of dosage.
But according to the Canadian Medical Association, “there is insufficient scientific evidence available to support the use of marijuana for clinical purposes.” Difficulty establishing proper dosage and possible interactions with other drugs are some of the risk factors the CMA finds with the use of medical marijuana. Doctors are not obliged to authorize the use of cannabis by their patients and may refer them to another clinic or health care practitioner if they are uncomfortable.
Health Canada warns that those with a serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease, a serious mental health disorder, a history of alcohol or drug abuse or allergies to smoke or cannabis should not use medical marijuana.
To learn more about medical marijuana laws and use precautions in Canada visit the Health Canada website at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/marihuana/info/cons-eng.php .
UPDATE: The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of Medical Cannabis in their June 23, 2015 edition acknowledging it as a form of medicine that has high quality reviews to support its use for pain control, MS and other uses. Follow this link to read the abstract.