Research

The new grey market: As older users warm up to cannabis, pot companies want to learn more: Financial Post

Cannabis companies hoping to expand the medical market will have to overcome the conservatism towards cannabis amongst medical associations — both the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association support the dismantling of the medical cannabis regime altogether, arguing that with legalization, there remains no need for medical professionals to serve a “gatekeeper role.”

This kind of opposition, said Pearson, is what makes is so difficult to obtain funding to really understand how cannabis can improve the lives of seniors. “I treat seniors in a long-term care setting and I’m weaning down their use of anti-psychotics and opioids. To just say leave it up to themselves, that means you’re saying they should self-medicate, which is absurd.” Read full article 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.

Not all research is created equal: Cannabis and chronic pain

Not all research is created equal. A new study published in The Lancet medical journal suggests that cannabis is not effective at treating chronic, non-cancer pain. This study is flawed on a number of levels.

Take a look at what I, and other physicians treating patients with cannabinoid medicine across North America, have to say in the article here.

From a clinical perspective, I have successfully treated hundreds of patients with non-cancer, chronic pain with cannabis therapy. It does not work for everyone and it is not a panacea, but for many, many patients it can be life-changing and is the only medicine that works to relieve their pain.

However, until we have more prospective, randomized controlled trials that can prove causality, we will continue to go around in circles with the cannabis as medicine debate. To legitimize cannabis as medicine and improve access for patients around the world who could benefit, more quality research is imperative.

Cannabis versus Cancer: Scientific American

Scientific American reports: "Countless scientific studies have shown that medical cannabis offers palliative care benefits, including appetite stimulationpain relief and more. But early research indicates that cannabinoids can do so much more. Data is showing that medical marijuana has antitumor effects and may one day be used as a cancer treatment, not just as a drug to ease symptoms of the disease." Full article. 

Research: Anticancer effects of phytocannabinoids used with chemotherapy in leukaemia cells, International Journal of Oncology (May 27, 2017)

Early research is providing cancer patients with new hope.

From Abstract: "Phytocannabinoids possess anticancer activity when used alone, and a number have also been shown to combine favourably with each other in vitro in leukaemia cells to generate improved activity. We have investigated the effect of pairing cannabinoids and assessed their anticancer activity in cell line models. Those most effective were then used with the common anti-leukaemia drugs cytarabine and vincristine, and the effects of this combination therapy on cell death studied in vitro. Results show a number of cannabinoids could be paired together to generate an effect superior to that achieved if the components were used individually." Full study here.

Research: Opioid use lower in states that eased medical marijuana laws, JAMA (April 2, 2018)

On Monday, the Journal of the American Medical Association published two studies investigating whether access to medical cannabis reduces opiate use and abuse. This article from NPR provides a solid, balanced overview.

NPR reports: 

Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

Many people end up abusing opioid drugs such as oxycodone and heroin after starting off with a legitimate prescription for pain. The authors argue that people who avoid that first prescription are less likely to end up as part of the opioid epidemic.

"We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency," says W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia. "And certainly there's no mortality risk" from the drug itself.

Read full article here.

Research: CBD Treatment for Cannabis Users with Psychosis, Schizophrenia Bulletin (2018.44.1)

A major factor associated with poor prognostic outcome after a first psychotic break is cannabis misuse, which is prevalent in schizophrenia and particularly common in individuals with recent-onset psychosis. Behavioral interventions aimed at reducing cannabis use have been unsuccessful in this population. New research published in the Schizophrenia Bulletin, suggests that CBD may improve the disease trajectory of individuals with early psychosis and comorbid cannabis misuse in particular—a population with currently poor prognostic outcome and no specialized effective intervention. Read more.