Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Halifax, CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Kashmala Fida
Page: 6


Dalhousie duo say recreational, medical need to be separate

Dalhousie researchers are lending their voices to the debate on
keeping the medical and recreational streams of marijuana separate.

The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation published
recommendations in a framework for legalization of cannabis in Canada
in 2016.

It stated recreational marijuana be accessed separately from medical

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) came out against that
recommendation in favour of a single stream instead.

The task force noted patients felt a separate system was necessary to
avoid losing their current access rights to cannabis.

Some patient concerns included: "The loss of recognition that their
use of cannabis is for medical purposes and occurs under the
supervision of a physician; shortages of supply; barriers for young
people; and the stigma associated with having to purchase cannabis for
medical purposes from a non-medical retail outlet."

Melanie Kelly, professor of pharmacology at Dalhousie University and
Elizabeth Cairns, a PHD candidate studying pharmacology, co-authored a
commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal agreeing with
the task force recommendations.

"We just felt that as experienced researchers, we are very close to
the data on what's out there and we understand their apprehension but
we thought we should put our opinion out there," said Cairns.

She said the CMA stated there is not enough research and clinical
evidence that supports medical use.

Although it might be true for a lot of major conditions like cancer
and heart disease, Cairns said there is substantial evidence of the
effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain, epilepsy,
chemotherapy-induced nausea and MS symptoms.

"CMA doesn't feel that doctors need to be invested in medical cannabis
because of the apparent lack of evidence for it," said Kelly.

She said research in those fields is required in order to learn more
about cannabis and its medical uses, and the single-stream approach
might hinder that.

"If we see that there would only be one stream, which of course would
be driven by the (consumer) market, then it would lean more towards
the recreational," Kelly said.

"That would certainly drive the field, not just in terms of what's
being produced but what research is being done or funded."

She said there is research being done in the field. But it's more
driven towards harm reduction stemming from recreational use instead
of therapeutic use which would drive the medical use.

"It matters a lot to patients that you have to go to the liquor store
for your medication and then it's not the one you necessarily want,"
said Kelly.

"Patients want the reassurance that this is something that will be
useful for them and they want to be able to interact with other
healthcare professionals like pharmacists, their doctor.
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