Although it’s been legal in Canada since 2001, it’s only been the last few years that Canadian patients and doctors have truly become interested in medical cannabis. The Canadian patient population has been growing steadily since 2016, with more than 200,000 patients across the country today.
One question medical practitioners have been asking is, “who should use medical marijuana?” It’s also worth asking the inverse of this question. Who shouldn’t use medical cannabis?
There are a few groups, including youth, people with particular health conditions, and people who have a history of substance use and addiction, who may not be authorized cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Medical Cannabis Isn’t for Everyone
If you listen to the news, you’d likely believe cannabis is some sort of miracle cure. Current research studies are working hard to discover what cannabis can do for human health. Early research is promising, but a lot of additional research is required. News outlets, however, love to sensationalize reports and findings.
Contrary to popular belief, cannabis isn’t a cure-all. Research evidence is still preliminary in many areas. Much more research is needed before it can be said medical cannabis is an effective treatment for any number of conditions.
There are also groups who may not be suitable candidates due to their medical histories or a variety of other factors.
Cannabis Could Harm Youth
The literature on the use of medical marijuana by people under 25 is mixed. In some cases, it appears to be very helpful. Take, for example, cases of children with particular forms of epilepsy. Medical marijuana has shown promise in some difficult-to-treat cases. However, physicians tend to authorize CBD, which looks to be safer long-term compared to THC.
Nonetheless, the research also suggests cannabis could have a negative effect on the normal development of the brain. For people under 25, the use of medical marijuana may be associated with an increase in psychotic symptoms, many of which are long lasting.
Medical professionals may still authorize cannabis for medicinal purposes for patients under 25. They should do so with the patient’s best interests in mind.
People Who Have Struggled with Substance Use
Another group medical cannabis isn’t recommended for is those who have struggled with substance use and addiction in the past. These patients may be more likely to become dependent on medical cannabis.
Again, the literature is mixed here. Research suggests cannabis is far less addictive than other medications, such as opioids. If a patient is struggling with an opioid addiction, medical marijuana could help the patient reduce their dependence.
This may not always be the case, however, so physicians should proceed with caution.
People Who Have a History of Mental Health Conditions
Some promising research has been done in the area of medical marijuana and mental health. The results, however, are not conclusive. Some studies indicate cannabis is very helpful, while others indicate it could be harmful.
Doctors should be cautious when considering authorization for a patient with a history of mental health conditions. THC is a psychoactive substance. For some patients, it can trigger anxiety and paranoia. If the patient is struggling with anxiety issues, they are more likely to experience this effect.
Despite the potential harm, however, mental health is the number-one reason patients use medical cannabis or recreational cannabis/self-medicate. As a result, we need to better understand what dosages and cannabinoids (i.e., CBD) can help them.
People Who Have Lung Conditions or Difficulty Breathing
Patients with asthma or lung disease may not be ideal candidates for medical marijuana.
The concern here relates to the method of delivery. Patients in this group, who already experience difficulty breathing, should not be advised to smoke medical marijuana.
That said, there are other methods these patients could use to take cannabis. Cannabis oils, prescription cannabinoids, and other smokeless methods reduce or eliminate many of the concerns doctors and patients have about smoking cannabis.
Is It Right for You?
Medical cannabis isn’t the right solution for every patient. If you’re wondering if it’s the right choice for you, talk to your doctor or the staff at a medical cannabis clinic. They can help you determine the right treatment for you.