New guidelines on cannabis prescribing incongruent with patient reported benefits


Recently, the College of Family Physicians (CFPC) published a set of new prescription guidelines regardingmedical cannabis. This document was circulated across Canada to 30,000 family physicians. The expectation is that family doctors take into consideration these new guidelines and prescribe, for the most part, in-line with these new “rules”. The guidelines are being criticized by many as being highly restrictive, ill-informed, and out of touch with the experiences of cannabis prescribing physicians and medical cannabis patients.


One of the many concerns with the aforementionedguidelines is the statement that cannabis poseshigh risks of harm” – this is repeated no fewer than ten times. This is presented as the main reason to avoid prescribing cannabis. As a physician who has written over three thousand cannabis prescriptions for patients, I find high risks of harm to be a stark contrast to my clinical experience. The most dramatic side effects typically seen with medical cannabis are mild in nature and include sedation, dry mouth, temporary mild amnesia, euphoria,and lightheadedness. It is important to note that all of these mild side effects can be prevented with proper dosing and counselling. More importantly, THC is non-toxic, impossible to overdose on, and is extremely safe for the majority of patients. Numerous studies have confirmed that cannabis is safe, yet these studies were not included in the recent analysis by the committee (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29398248). While I agree the greatest risk of THC are hallucinations and psychosis, the absolute risk seems extremely overstated by the evidence selected by this committee. In fact, much of the literature actually suggests that the odds of psychosis happening is less than 1:20,000 cases (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13826/abstract;jsessionid=E585EA4329A1E045F6E9BC7E800E8C10.f01t04). Oddly, the new guidelines used specific studies that demonstrate the rate of psychosis closer to 1:20. I could not disagree more with the guideline committee’s assessment of the literature on harms. Many pharmaceuticals have side effects and risks such as liver failure, kidney failure, stomach ulcers, and even death: cannabis poses none of these risks.


Furthermore, the side effects of cannabis only occur with one ingredient in the cannabis plant, THC. This is not a risk with the other more commonly prescribed cannabis ingredient, CBD. This brings me to my next concern: the guidelines fail to mention CBD as a treatment option. Frontline physicians prescribing cannabis often resort to using CBD cannabis strains (mostly in oil form to be ingested). CBD is not cognitively impairing, it does not cause addiction, and it does not cause any of the side effects that THC does. It is currently being investigated as an anti-epileptic, anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer agent. Its therapeutic potential is more than any other medicine we have seen in decades. The most fascinating part about CBD is that it is extremely well-tolerated, given the worst side effects experienced are a bit of drowsiness at higher dosages. I have used CBD oil on numerous occasions, for example, to cure young children with intractable epilepsy, to reduce inflammatory pain for a wide range of diseases (osteparthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatological arthritic conditions), and to help patients with severe anxiety not responsive to traditional pharmaceuticals to name a few. Somehow, the new guidelines fail to separate CBD from THC and instead it lumps all cannabis together as one form. This is completely inaccurate and demonstrates the lack of experience in cannabis prescribing on the member panel. To treat cannabis as only one medicine ignores the fundamentals of cannabis pharmacology. Our clinic’s medical database of fifty thousand cannabis patients demonstrates that more than 50 percent of patients use CBD only products. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published an extensive review on CBD that demonstrates it is safe, poses no public health risk, is non-addictive, and has immense therapeutic value (http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf). I struggle to understand why the guideline committee failed to address CBDs extreme safety profile and ignore the WHOs analysis.


My last major concern with the guidelines is that it is highly restrictive in terms of the number of disease states that physicians are permitted to prescribe for. The new guideline suggests that only four conditions be considered: chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain, spinal cord injuries, and MS spasticity. While I agree that the current evidence is best for these conditions, restricting prescribing to these four conditions will leave out millions of Canadians suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, crohns disease/ulcerative colitis, epilepsy, HIV, and refractory anxiety. Interestingly, SunLife Financial just announced they are offering coverage for employers for medical cannabis. After reviewing the medical literature they opted to cover moreconditions than the new guidelines suggest physicians prescribe for (http://business.financialpost.com/news/fp-street/sun-life-financial-to-add-medical-pot-option-to-group-benefits-plans). The most disturbing parts of this document, however, is the fact that it is not even recommended for patients who are palliative, deemed to have less than six months to live. The committee somehow thinks it is unsafe for dying patients to use a medicine that can help with pain, appetite, sleep, and anxiety. The idea that pills must be used first, and that palliative patients should be discouraged from medicating with cannabis, is mind-boggling and disturbing.


As a physician, I am struggling to accept these new guidelines. The guideline’s conclusions could not be more different than patient experiences and physician observations. For me to tell dying patients that I cannot prescribe them a safe medication, especially one that is non-toxic and can help palliate multiple end-of-lifesymptoms, seems out of touch with the principles of being a physician. What happened to the ethical principle of “do no harm”? While we all thrive for evidence-basedmedicine, our responsibility is to first use the least harmful medications to help patients. Evidently, cannabis fits this category perfectly. Patients should not have the burden of being forced to try a myriad of medications that they do not want to for their condition, or that they deem more harmful to their health. With proper patient education and counselling on cannabis, patients should be permitted to evaluate the risks and benefits of a therapy and decide with their doctor the appropriate course of action. That is patient-centered care and the art of medicine. To ignore this part of medicine turns doctors into robots following flow charts and patients into voiceless sufferers whose experiences are irrelevant to prescribing. What happened to shared decision-making and patient autonomy? These restrictive guidelines come at a time where we are faced with an epidemic in prescription overdoses. In fact, opiates and other pharmaceuticals currently account for more than 50,000 deaths annually in North America(https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm655051e1.htm). Overdose is the second leading cause of death in North America. There is a plethora of research demonstrating that access to cannabis has resulted in less opiate related deaths (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1898878). So again, why be so restrictive at a time when we should be advising doctors to prescribe anything but opiates?


The medical community should endeavour to do better. Patients trust doctors to help them make informed decisions. The new guidelines, however, are likely to cause a significant backlash and further distrust in the medical community. Ongoing discounting of the benefits of cannabis for millions of users will result in patients having to look elsewhere for their care, further away from physicians. Patients feel like their experiences with cannabis are not being validated and it does not do society any favours by driving these complex, sick patients away from doctors, to alternative practitioners with less training, or even to black markets to get their medicine.


I call on the committee to pause, reflect, and hopefully update these guidelines. I encourage the committee to expand on the number of conditions that physicians should consider when prescribing cannabis. I ask that they address CBD, its overall safety, and encourage its use as a therapy ahead of more harmful pharmaceuticals. I also request that they introduce more flexibility into the guidelines to allow for shared decision-making and patient-centered care.


I became a doctor to help patients heal. These guidelines severely interfere with my ability to help Canada’s sickest patients.

 

CBD – Cannabidiol, the wonder drug?

cbd-cannabidiol.jpgCannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid found in moderate to high concentration in a variety of cannabis strains (note it is also found in the hemp plant on it’s own). Over the past few years it has become a very popular option for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. The best part about CBD is that it does not cause impairment. It does not lead to a high or euphoria like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can cause and thus has reduced side effects. CBD came to fame mostly by helping children with treatment resistant epilepsy. None more famous than Charlotte’s Web, a specific strain designed for a child with Dravet Syndrome, a very serious seizure disorder that often leaves children debilitated and cognitively impaired. You can learn more about Charlotte’s web and Charlotte’s miracle with CBD here:

To date I have been fortunate enough to help close to twenty children with debilitating seizure disorders like Charlotte. We have had mixed results with CBD on various seizure disorders but on average we are seeing 50%-75% of seizure patients having significant improvement with seizure reductions. Among these children are ones who have had near 100% improvement in their seizures and general well being. It is by far the most rewarding experiences I have had as a physician.

In addition to acting as an anti-epileptic medication, CBD has also been found to have numerous other benefits such as:

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In my clinic I am using CBD as much as possible to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, MS related spasticity and arthritis to name a few conditions. To date the success has been excellent with many patients reporting reductions in chronic symptoms and improvement in quality of life. The best part about CBD is that the side effects are minimal or non-existent. Very few patients have reported side effects and most are manageable. There are side benefits as well with CBD, such as many patient reporting “mental clarity” and “enhanced energy” when consuming the product.

If you are new to cannabinoids or looking to alleviate symptoms without getting potential cognitive side effects, CBD is the your best option. If you want to learn more about this amazing phytocannabinoid, I recommend heading over to https://www.projectcbd.org/. We still have so much to learn about the potential of CBD on diseases and hopefully more research will be produced in the coming years to understand if indeed this has the potential to a blockbuster wonder drug.

Cheers,

CannabinoidMD

Canada’s not-so-universal health care

Article first appeared on Lift news – https://news.lift.co/canadas-not-universal-health-care

After 16 years of medical marijuana programs, still no pharmacare for cannabis-based medicine

“In July of 2001, Health Canada established the country’s first regulatory system for legal medical cannabis, formally acknowledging the plant’s efficacy as a medicine. More than a decade and a half later, Canada’s national health care infrastructure has yet to list cannabis and its derivative medicines for the same insurance coverage granted to other medicines and treatments. While insurance administrators drag their heels, Canadian families are struggling to pay medical bills out of pocket.

This lack of coverage is causing one family in North York, ON, to rely on a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their 2-year-old daughter’s anti-seizure CBD treatments. Delilah Krupka was born with cerebral palsy (CP), caused by a single vein having developed too small in her brain before birth, leading to a stroke in utero. For the first year of her life she suffered from repeated seizures and spasms—as often as 50 spasms per hour, every day.

Delilah’s parents and doctors attempted traditionally prescribed treatments, but all of the anti-seizure medications they tried that were covered by Ontario’s pharmacare came with side effects including loss of appetite, which is crucial to any infant, and especially so for an infant in recovery from a prenatal stroke and developmental disorder. As a result of one of her previous prescriptions (a bitter medicine administered by sprinkling on food) she also developed an aversion to food itself, and now has to be fed by feeding tube to ensure she receives enough energy and fibre to survive.

After celebrating Delilah’s first birthday during a month-long stay at the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, her mother Bella met the parent of another child who suffered from CP, and who had found success in treating the condition with CBD oil. Bella consulted with Delilah’s physician, and reached out to Dr. Michael Verbora, medical director at the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic.

A short time after beginning CBD treatments the frequency of Delilah’s seizures and spasms both saw significant reductions, from 50 spasms per hour to just 20 spasms per day on average, as well as secondary benefits as a result of the reduction in seizures.

“Delilah has developed better in the 7 months since starting CBD treatments,” said Mrs. Krupka, “than she had in the rest of her two years.”

The universe is waiting

CBD coverage is just one aspect of a larger universal pharmacare discussion that has long been called for by provincial and federal constituents. Canada is often lauded by US lawmakers for its comprehensive health care system, highlighting its contrast from the American status quo of families going bankrupt when loved ones injure themselves or are diagnosed with medical conditions. But there’s one area of health care coverage in which Canada remains as stagnant as its southern neighbour.

Among the 62 countries worldwide that have instituted universal health care, Canada stands out as the only developed nation that has not yet instituted universal pharmacare as part of its health care umbrella. So when the Krupkas saw the results the new CBD treatments had for their daughter, they were dismayed to find the medicine was not covered by either their provincial health care or Delilah’s father’s employee benefits.

Faced with the choice of returning to the previous treatments that are covered by pharmacare, knowing it would likely mean a return to nearly one spasm per minute for Delilah, or somehow finding an extra $700 per month to cover her medicine, the Krupkas decided to follow the lead of countless Americans similarly neglected by their country’s lack of coverage: they started a GoFundMe campaign.

So far the campaign has raised enough money to cover a little over a year’s worth of CBD treatments, but Delilah will require more frequent, higher dosage treatments as she grows in size and as she transitions off other medications.

Currently Delilah requires five anti-seizure medications and one hormone treatment for a separate thyroid condition. All but the CBD treatment are covered by Ontario’s pharmacare and Irek’s—Delilah’s father’s—employee benefits. After seeing the improvements in Delilah’s condition as a result of replacing previous treatments with CBD oil, the Krupkas are eager to further reduce the remaining prescriptions (and their respective side effects). But that may require increasing the dosage of CBD, which is thus far financially out of reach for the family.

Precedents

One recent case that came before a human rights board in Nova Scotia may have made a significant leap forward for cannabis coverage in Canada. An inquiry in February of 2017 resulted in the ruling that the Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Plan, which provided insurance to Nova Scotia resident Gordon Skinner, violated the province’s Human Rights Act when it denied Skinner’s claim for coverage of his legally issued medical cannabis.

“Denial of his request for coverage of medical marijuana,” declared the ruling, “amounts to a prima facie case of discrimination.”

The insurer was ordered to cover Skinner’s cannabis expenses in full.

While most Canadian underwriters are leaving their customers out in the cold for cannabis coverage, two insurers are leading the charge on progressive coverage policy. In 2016, Sun Life and BMO Insurance became the first insurance companies in Canada to grant coverage for medical cannabisexpenses, and have already started paying out claims.

University of Waterloo student Jonathan Zaid was one of the first to receive cannabis coverage through his student union health plan, with Sun Life having reimbursed roughly $2,000 for cannabis and a vaporizer he had purchased the previous year.

Although some Canadians are starting to be covered, that’s a far cry from the average Canadian having the comfort and security of knowing their health care will be assured should they fall ill, be injured, or otherwise find themselves in need of costly medical treatments.”

Written by: Scott Johnstone

Cannabis and Anxiety – Good or Bad?

Anxiety-Image-300x200.jpgI meet patients daily who claim cannabis helps them with their anxiety. However, many physicians will claim that cannabis actually worsens anxiety. So which group is correct, patients or doctors?

Well it appears to be that both are correct.

Anxiety is an extremely common medical issue. About 25% of Canadians at some point will suffer from an anxiety disorder (Stats Can). Anxiety is a state where one feels constant worry that is greater than what an average person would experience. Anxiety can be protective at times. Think about when you’ve had anxiety before an exam or big game. In these moments, anxiety can help motivate us to better prepare. Chronic anxiety or high levels of anxiety over a long period of time however, cause impairment in our day-to-day functioning. It can lead to isolation and avoidance. It causes many people to call in sick to work or to avoid activities and social events. There are many types of anxiety disorders. The most common ones include: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder or Phobias (fear of specific things such as spiders or heights). Risk factors for anxiety include: family history (genetics), environmental factors, chronic stress and chronic disease.

Anxiety.jpg

During anxious moments, or a chronic state of anxiety, the brain is undergoing neurotransmitter changes that involve dopamine, serotonin, GABA and noradrenaline. This leads to a state of arousal physically and can lead to panic symptoms which include chest pain, chills/hot flushes, fear of losing control, light-headedness, a racing heart, numbness/tingling, trembling or sweating. What is interesting to the field of cannabinoid medicine is that recent research has demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system is also directly involved in stress and anxiety (Tulane University).

Based on the research done at Tulane University, and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, when our bodies feel stress they produce cannabinoids (see here to learn the basics on cannabinoids) which acts on the emotional centers of our brain, the amygdala. This type of cannabinoid may actually lead to worsening stress based on the mechanism of action.

On the other hand, when we consume phytocannabinoids (plant based cannabinoids), particularly THC, the amygdala (the fear center of the brain) experiences a relaxation and calming of neurotransmitter release, or which we experience as reduced stress or anxiety. This is how THC can help anxiety. Interestingly, the phytocannabinoid ingredient CBD can also help anxiety given it works on serotonin pathways just like many of the antidepressants we used today (called SSRIs). So when patients state that using cannabis helps relieve their anxiety, there is a biochemical model that supports this subjective experience.

anxiety-graph1

But why are doctors so worried about worsening anxiety with cannabis? How can they also be correct in stating that cannabis causes worsening anxiety? Well the answer lies in dosage. There is a saying that goes “a small tincture is medicine, too much is poison”. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Chicago, discovered that low dosages of THC leads to a reduction of stress in a public speaking task (see study here). When a higher dose was given and there was a reported “high” there was worsening anxiety. Today many experts in the field believe that the key to helping medical ailments with cannabis relies on microdosing. Using small amounts of THC has been very effective in alleviating symptoms for patients.

Based on my experience there is still a lot more to learn about cannabis and anxiety. Through my observations I have learned that sativa dominant strains likely worsen anxiety given they have specific terpene profiles that lead to increased energy. Anyone knows that given energy to an anxious person worsens their anxiety. In my experience, indica dominant strains with high myrecene levels, can lead to a reduction of anxiety. Putting all of this together the best medical advice I can give anxious patients is to use very low dosages of THC and stick to indica strains. Also always try to use CBD strains as this is likely going to be proven in the future to be better at controlling anxiety than THC. Too much THC will lead to worsening anxiety and a higher reliance on cannabis.

Future research will lead to better insight into specific strains, terpene profiles and dosages. Boosting your natural endocannabinoid system through running, yoga and meditation can also reduce anxiety and should always be used first prior to any medication.

Take Care.

  • CannabinoidMD

European patients seek access to medical cannabis

Access to regulated cannabis that has controls in place is important if it is being used as a medicine and being prescribed properly by a physician. While North America has been experiencing a green rush, many other patients across the globe still do not have access to regulated medical cannabis. Dr. Michael Verbora (medical director of Canabo Medical Corp and physician lead of the Toronto Cannabinoid Medical Clinic) was invited to the Estonian parliament (Riigikogu) earlier this month to present on Canada’s world leading medical cannabis system after an online petition in Estonia garnered more than 1000 signatures to address cannabis.  

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In the end of July, 2016, two petitions regarding medical cannabis garnered enough signatures to trigger government evaluation. One of the petitions, initiated by Aleksander Laane of the Estonian Green Party, focused on the medical side of cannabis regulation only, and demanded five things: 1) that the government develop guidelines for medical cannabis growing, preparing/processing, and sale in pharmacies based on the best examples from abroad; 2) that herbal cannabis be removed from Schedule I of narcotic drugs to Schedule III of the same, and that additional regulations be developed to allow for use of medicinal cannabis that do not mimic similar regulations set in place for medical use of opium and opioids; 3) that the process of prescribing both herbal cannabis as well as cannabinoid preparations be simplified in a manner similar to how Canada, Germany, the US, Israel and other countries have done it or are planning to do; 4) that herbal cannabis as well as cannabinoid preparations be made instantly available to patients with relevant prescriptions; and 5) that the state stop penalizing people for simple possession and use of cannabis.

The second petition, by private citizen Elver Loho, consisted of three standalone proposals. The petition, titled “Suggestions to the Parliament for better regulation of the cannabis market,” proposed that: 1) Estonian enterprises be allowed to produce cannabinoid medicines for export, in the same way they are allowed to produce mainstream psychoactive medicines and precursors, to be sold on the international market; 2) that the Minister of Health should decree that THC be moved from Schedule I of Narcotic Drugs to Schedule II to make it easier for doctors to prescribe THC-based medicines; 3) that the government initiate a pilot study into a heavily controlled and regulated recreational cannabis market model, whereby doctor-approved adult citizens would be allowed to buy and consume strictly tracked limited amounts of recreational cannabis on the premises of heavily regulated and screened cannabis consumption facilities.

While the petitions were gathering signatures, the Estonian Medical Cannabis Association (MTÜ Ravikanep) compiled a concise compendium of evidence-based information on cannabinoid medicine and medical cannabis regulation, containing a piece of original research—results of an anonymous survey into the unlicensed medical use of cannabis in Estonia—which was published in the fall of 2016, at the same time as both petitions reached the necessary minimum amount of signatures, but before the dates for the first session of the parliamentary commission were set. The evidence of effectiveness of medical use of cannabinoids cited in the compendium is mostly based on the Health Canada medical cannabis monograph of 2011.

The Parliamentary Commission on Social Affairs first gathered to discuss the medical cannabis related proposals of both petitions in February of 2016. The petitioners met with stern resistance to any liberalization of the procedures for prescribing medical cannabis and cannabinoids, especially on the part of the Estonian Doctors’ Association. The main objections by Estonian doctors to easing regulation, or even to simply starting to prescribe cannabinoid medicines in the legal framework that’s currently in place, are that: they don’t know enough about cannabinoid medicines and their nonconventional routes of administration, especially with regards to cannabis flos (Bedrocan’s herbal preparations), to confidently prescribe them; that the medications available on the market, especially Sativex, are prohibitively expensive; and that doctors don’t want to be “keepers of the key to the narcotics vault.”

In order to assuage these fears, and to demonstrate that safe, efficient, evidence-based cannabinoid treatments are actually feasible and in many cases preferable to other treatments, the petitioners, in tandem with the Medical Cannabis Association, started looking for a foreign expert. I was contacted and agreed to travel to Estonia to present to the Parliamentary Commission. The Medical Cannabis Association was able to crowdfund over 3000 euros in less than one week to support this visit.

While in Estonia, I met with patients to answer questions about my practice and cannabinoid medicine in general. One of the national commercial TV broadcasters, Kanal 2, made an hour-long in-depth feature for a current issues program Radar, which will be aired in the beginning of May 2017, featuring interviews with myself, the petitioners, some patients and commission members. Patients with brain cancers (or other cancers), patients on chemotherapy, and people living with chronic pain attended a meet and greet and shared their stories and how Cannabis helped ease their pain and suffering.

I attended the Estonian Parliamentary Commission on April 11, 2017 to present on the Canadian Cannabis system and the expertise of Cannabinoid Medical clinic physician, and demonstrated patient outcomes and medical evidence supporting the use of cannabis.

To date, the Social Affairs Commission has yet to make any definitive decisions regarding medical cannabis in Estonia, but the head of the Commission, Mrs. Helmen Kütt, said to a reporter that they have asked the State Medical Board to explain the reasons for the current double classification of THC/dronabinol into Schedules of Narcotic Drugs I and III, and will look into simplifying the process of prescribing and acquiring not just cannabinoid-based medications, but all medicines that aren’t licensed to be sold in Estonia.

Unfortunately, patients using medical cannabis in Estonia are not getting proper medical advice, expertise or supervision on the use of cannabinoid medicines. Their government often views them as criminals rather than patients trying to heal their suffering. Hopefully, countries like Estonia will develop evidence-based approaches to prescribing cannabinoids and consider changing regulations so patients can palliate their symptoms with peace of mind.

-CannabinoidMD

This Article was first posted on Lift News

 

MILESTONE STUDY SHOWS DRAMATIC REDUCTION IN PHARMACEUTICAL RELIANCE AMONG CANADIAN MEDICAL CANNABIS PATIENTS

Canabo Medical Inc. observational study finds nearly fifty per cent drop in benzodiazepine use within months of cannabis treatment

TORONTO, ON – (April 7, 2017) – Today, Canabo Medical Inc. (TSX-V:CMM) (OTCQB:CAMDF) (“Canabo” or the “Company”) released the results of a new, landmark observational study that connects doctor-supervised medical cannabis treatments to a sharp drop in benzodiazepine reliance among Canadian patients.

Research conducted over the past year revealed that 40 per cent of patients who were prescribed medical cannabis to treat pain and anxiety eliminated the use of benzodiazepines within 90 days. That percentage increased to 45 per cent within a year of cannabis treatment. The findings were announced by Dr. Neil Smith during a presentation at the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) event in Toronto.

Canabo, which operates 15 cannabinoid clinics across Canada under the brand CMClinics, partnered with a consortium of medical research experts to analyze data from more than 1,500 patients with the aim of understanding how cannabis interacts with or lessens the need for pharmaceutical treatments. Preliminary findings in late 2016 indicated a downward trend in benzodiazepine use – a trend that was confirmed after additional investigation and included in the Reduction of Benzodiazepine Use in Patients Prescribed Medical Marijuana report. The team responsible for the peer-reviewed report has shared their findings with several Canadian medical journals and details are expected to soon appear in the Dalhousie Medical Journal.

In Canada, 10 per cent of the general population use benzodiazepines daily, with common side-effects such as sedation, dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, headache and memory impairment. Long-term benzodiazepine use is also associated with complications including problems with concentration, tolerance, addiction and overdose.

“We wanted to take a close look at the likelihood of continued benzodiazepine usage after commencing medical cannabis treatments and to be perfectly honest, the results are extremely promising,” said Dr. Neil Smith, Executive Chairman of Canabo. “When conducting this type of research, experts are typically encouraged by an efficacy rate in the neighbourhood of 10 per cent. To see 45 per cent effectiveness demonstrates that the medical cannabis industry is at a real watershed moment.”

Augmenting pharmaceutical regimes with cannabinoid treatments

The study isolated a group of 146 patients from a database of individuals being treated for a wide variety of pain and other disorders for approximately one-year. Each patient was referred by a primary physician or specialist and thoroughly assessed by CMClinic’s own doctors before being prescribed cannabis as supplemental treatment. Additional patient details include:

  • The average age of the sample of patients using benzodiazepines on initial contact with the company is 48 years-old
  • Nearly 43 per cent (42.9%) of that group report a work status of either temporarily or permanently disabled
  • Nearly 60 per cent (59.9%) of the patients are female
  • Those individuals taking benzodiazepines have primary conditions that are representative of all CMClinic patients
  • Well more than half (61.3%) are primarily interested in treatment for a pain condition, 27.4 per cent for a psychiatric condition and 11.3 per cent for a neurological condition

In all cases, patients remained under the care of the referring doctor and all were examined in detail to understand the effect of cannabinoid treatments on benzodiazepine use.

Canabo is also collecting data as to what extent cannabis serves as a substitute or effective complement to traditional opioid therapies and today’s report is expected to be the first in a series that examines the role of cannabis in modern therapies.

“To say that we’re encouraged is an understatement but there’s a lot of work still to be done,” added Dr. Smith. “We hope to conduct formal trials both in-house and in collaboration with others pending further analysis of what we believe to be one of the most promising advancements in many years.”

 

First posted on: http://www.canabocorp.com/milestone-study-shows-dramatic-reduction-in-pharmaceutical-reliance-among-canadian-medical-cannabis-patients/