The efficacy of medicinal marijuana remains to be proven, experts say

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While the number of medicinal cannabis users is skyrocketing across the country, a team from the University of Alberta is asking physicians to be cautious. The current state of the research does not allow, according to her, to prove its benefits, except for a few cases.

The nerve pains Lou Morin suffers from are among those exceptions. At 64, he stopped opioids and now consumes cannabis to relieve his suffering.

Opioids treated pain, he says, but did not allow him to “function.” Cannabis allows this, but also, especially, sleep well at night: “It allows me to live, in fact,” he says.

Like him, many patients with chronic pain are turning to marijuana to reduce opioid dependence.

Between April and September 2017, the number of cannabis users for medicinal purposes tripled in Canada, including Alberta, according to Health Canada figures.

More research needed

But the evidence on the merits of medical cannabis is lacking, says Mike Allan, who led the study. For example, there is not enough research on the effects of cannabis against back pain or depression, which are common causes of prescription.

As long as we do not have more research, we should really limit our prescriptions.

Mike Allan, Study Director

The research raises, however, that the side effects of cannabis are better known: these include drowsiness and vertigo.

According to the study, the efficacy of medicinal marijuana has been proven only for chronic nerve pain, palliative care pain, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and spasticity, which is associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.

In any case, the researchers also recommend in their press release to resort to cannabis “only after having tried a number of conventional therapies”.

A case-by-case prescription

The study is intended to serve as a guide for family physicians who, according to Mike Allan, need more information and advice on this topic. It therefore presents general recommendations.

This does not preclude, he says, that every doctor takes a different decision, based on the medical history of his patient, and in collaboration with him.

Sam is a freelance writer who has experience writing in the digital world for 4 years after he quit his job. Sam’s interests in current world affairs gave him the drive to pursue a career in journalism. Sam originates from Russia, lived in Canada for a short time between 2011 and 2013, then moved to New York to pursue his career.


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