Medical cannabis has been generating much more interest in the medical community lately. More research, combined with changing attitudes, has led to significant growth in the patient population since 2016. New research findings are promising, and many patients are now benefiting from the use of medical marijuana as part of their management programs.
If you’re new to medical cannabis, the subject can seem overwhelming. There’s a lot of information available, and much of it can seem contradictory. Even patients who have been using cannabis for some time may be surprised by some of the facts about it.
1. Medical Cannabis Is Showing Promise for Many Health Conditions
Perhaps one of the most surprising facts about medical cannabis is the number of conditions it appears to play a role in managing. Good evidence supports its use in the treatment and management of chronic pain, nausea induced by cancer therapies, epilepsy in severe forms, MS spasticity, and palliative care.
Research currently underway implicates cannabis in the regulation of many other health conditions. A partial list includes Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, some cancers, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and some mental health conditions.
It’s important to note here that much of this research is preliminary, based on self-reports or uncontrolled studies. Additional research is needed to confirm the science, but the current outlook is promising.
2. A Medical Program Is Still Needed after Legalization
Much has been made about cannabis becoming legal in Canada in October 2018. Some people believe there’s no need for a medical marijuana program in the country after this date.
The truth is a medical marijuana program is still very necessary. It will help patients continue to access the particular strains and dosages they need. The Cannabis Act imposes limits on the possession of recreational cannabis, and many patients exceed this limit.
We also require a legal medical program to protect patient strains, advocate for coverage, conduct research to support its proper use, and to reduce the stigma associated with medical cannabis.
3. Medical Marijuana Could Combat the Opioid Crisis
Another surprising fact about medical marijuana is that many experts feel it should be more widely used in managing the current opioid crisis in Canada. Opioid deaths totalled nearly 4,000 individuals in 2017 alone, and the numbers continue to climb.
Medical cannabis is being suggested as a substitute for opioid prescriptions, especially in cases of chronic pain. The medication has been shown to be effective. Furthermore, it has fewer risk factors and fewer side effects.
4. Insurance May Soon Cover the Costs
Another thing to know about cannabis is that until very recently, most private insurers haven’t covered the costs associated with it for patients. This has meant more limited access for many people who could benefit from cannabis treatments.
The provincial governments also don’t offer coverage. In early 2018, Sun Life announced that they would begin offering coverage for medical cannabis to those with group benefits plans. It’s likely that other larger insurers will follow suit.
This helps, but it still isn’t enough. Many Canadians do not have private insurance, either purchased on their own or offered through an employer. The provincial governments should review policy to ensure medical cannabis is available for all Canadian patients.
5. There Are Many Different Methods of Consumption
Another common fact about medical marijuana is that there are many different methods of consumption. While smoking is often the method many people think of, it is not a recommended method and it’s not the only method available.
Medical marijuana comes in several different forms, including oils, pills, sprays, and more. Talk to your doctor about what method might be right for you.
These are just some of the facts you should know about medical cannabis. Some of them may be surprising. New studies and research mean there’s always more for you to discover.