Article by Sean Minogue, Now Toronto
“Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work,” reads the federal Liberal party’s website. That fact is all too clear to anyone waiting for the landscape to change while enduring conditions like chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or serious sleep issues.
The mounting evidence about the effectiveness of medical cannabis is hard to ignore. Last year, McGill University published a study on its long-term side effects on patients with chronic pain, finding there was no increase of “serious adverse events.” A 2014 study in New Mexico found that medical cannabis accounted for a 75 per cent reduction in symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
And when it comes to sleep disorders, Dr. Atul Khullar, a senior consultant at MedSleep clinics, has found that medical cannabis works very well for certain patients. “A lot of problems we were seeing with psychiatric issues combined with sleep issues weren’t responding to traditional therapies, or the therapies weren’t tolerated,” says Dr. Khullar. “So we began cautiously using medical cannabis for some very resistant cases and found some good success.”
The available research and positive patient experiences should hasten a change in federal legislation, but this hasn’t happened yet. Dr. Khullar believes one of the big issues could be the blurring of the various uses of cannabis.
“I think it’s two streams,” he says. “Are you using this recreationally or are you using this medically? They’re completely different, even if it’s the same product. This is the uniqueness of medical cannabis.” It’s also a unique problem for doctors who want to steer clear of the recreational market while also providing the best health care to patients.