Local opioid prescription rate too high, says Doctor Blake Pearson

By now, we all know that the opioid epidemic is widespread. Unfortunately, right here in my own small community, we still have one of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions in Ontario. In my new role as the Primary Care Lead, Addictions and Opioid Strategy, with the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network, I am looking forward to collaborating closely with doctors, other health care professionals and experts across the region to develop a progressive strategy to make a real impact on the addiction problems afflicting our community. Read more here.

What can medical cannabis be prescribed for in the UK?


From time to time, I like to share what is happening in other countries regarding access to medical cannabis. This article dives into the historic, recent changes to the laws in the UK.

The condition at the forefront of the campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the UK is childhood epilepsy, specifically, the cases of 13-year-old Billy Caldwell and 7-year-old Alfie Dingley. 

Both children have severe epilepsy and were initially prevented from using cannabis oil treatments that helped improve their condition. Their heartbreaking stories made international news and the outcry fueled the recent changes in the UK. Real progress has been made in Britain - but some argue that access is still too restrictive.

Read full story from Bustle.com here.

Cannabis worth exploring in stroke treatment: Ottawa Citizen

From the Ottawa Citizen, November 1, 2018: A decade ago, Dr. Taylor Lougheed would never have imagined standing up in front of a crowd of people at a conference and talking about the potential benefits of cannabis for people recovering from stroke.

Lougheed is a family physician who works in sports, emergency and cannabinoid medicine. He’ll be one of the speakers on Friday at this year’s Ottawa Stroke Summit, an event that will bring together about 250 researchers, medical professionals and stroke survivors to hear about new frontiers in stroke treatment and prevention.

“I think this might be at the edge of their comfort zone,” said Lougheed, a physician at the Canabo Medical Clinic. “Scientists and physicians are taught to be skeptical. We’re taught to look under stones. But maybe some of my colleagues haven’t looked under these stones for some time. Science evolves.”

Full article here.

Cannabis oil improves Crohn's disease symptoms: CTV

"Dr. Naftali, whose study is being billed as the first of its kind, found that an eight-week treatment with cannabis oil containing a four to one CBD to THC ratio produced clinical remission in up to 65 per cent of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The randomized, placebo-controlled study involved 50 people with moderately severe forms of the disease. The group that received cannabis oil also reported significant improvements in their quality of life."

Read full article here.

Parents claim marijuana saved their daughter from cancer: People

We have seen time and again the positive impact that cannabis can have on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. New research is now emerging that cannabis can actually kill cancer cells. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in this area but this is definitely one to watch closely:

“This isn’t fringe science anymore,” says Los Angeles pediatrician Dr. Bonni Goldstein, an expert in cannibinoid therapy who worked with the von Harz family. “Studies have shown that cannabis can help kill cancer, in conjunction with chemotherapy, and also help fight the side effects of chemo.”

Read the full article here.

OMA president's comments, apology raise questions about stigma around marijuana: CBC

Really respect those who can recognize when they have made a mistake and take quick action to make it right.

Strongly agree with Dr. Verbora’s perspective that the President of the Ontario Medical Association was circulating information that was accurate, to the best of her knowledge, and respect the fact that she took swift action to correct herself when her colleagues brought newer, more accurate information to her attention.

In this CBC article, Dr. Verbora says the medical community is reluctant to engage with newer research about marijuana:  

"Cannabis is so stigmatized and that's just because in the medical community, the way we talk about it, the way we educate on it, we only talk about the harms and we don't talk about the benefits."    

TTC subway operator barred while using medicinal cannabis: CBC

This is yet another example of the shocking, dangerous and unfortunately, not surprising, double-standard that exists between medical cannabis and traditional pharmaceuticals.

If organizations want to err on the side of caution for safety-sensitive positions until there is a more accurate way of testing cannabis impairment, than that seems sensible to me. What does not make sense, however, is forcing a TTC driver off of her medical cannabis to keep her job but allowing her to continue driving while taking impairing opioids, which she describes as leaving her feeling "groggy, forgetful and feeling like a zombie." Not to mention their high addiction potential.

Not only that, but this patient was prescribed CBD oil, which only contains trace amounts of THC and is considered non-impairing. Based on the evidence available, how can anyone believe that going back on opioids is a safer choice?

Read full article from the CBC here.

Ontario Human Rights Commission releases updated policy ahead of cannabis legalization: Global News

From today’s Global News: Employers are required to do what they can to accommodate medical marijuana users as well as those addicted to pot but that doesn’t give employees carte blanche to show up at work stoned, Ontario’s Human Rights Commission said on Thursday.

In its updated policy guidance ahead of next week’s legalization of recreational weed, the commission says employers can expect workers to be sober at work, particularly in safety-sensitive jobs.

“Accommodation does not necessarily require employers to permit cannabis impairment on the job,” the document states. “The duty to accommodate ends if the person cannot ultimately perform the essential duties of the job after accommodation has been tried and exhausted, or if undue hardship would result.”

Ultimately, the commission said, the looming change in the law has no impact when it comes to human rights.

Phasing out medical cannabis would leave pediatric patients in the lurch, CBC

I read the CBC column, “Phasing out medical cannabis would leave pediatric patients in the lurch,” with interest this weekend.

 In short, the fact that the Canadian Medical Association has floated the idea of eliminating the medical cannabis access system is a very serious potential outcome to recreational cannabis legalization that most Canadians are unaware of. Not only could this have dire effects for children, as Dr. MacCallum and Dr. Valleriani outline in their article, but also for the thousands of geriatric and palliative patients living in long-term care. While these elderly patients wouldn’t be restricted by the minimum age limit that pediatric patients face, access to quality-of life-improving medication would be severely restricted if the rules were to change. In short, this is a public health issue that people need to know more about as it could potentially affect some of our most vulnerable patients including children and the elderly.