Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: James Moir
Page: A10


College's information outdated, says James Moir.

The Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) recently published a
statement reflecting their stance on medical cannabis, basically
stating there is insufficient evidence to recommend it, and that
adverse effects outweigh any benefits.

As a physician working in Edmonton's only legitimate
"physician-and-nurse-run" cannabinoid medical clinic, I must object
strongly to this stance. I have an MD from the University of Alberta,
with five years' subspecialty training in anesthesiology and pain
medicine, and have over 20 years clinical experience in this area. I
have five years' experience in perioperative medicine and extra
training in cannabinoid medicine, which allows me to prescribe medical
cannabis and work in the clinic, where I have been for the better part
of a year.

The ACFP's statement is simply dead wrong, and appears to be based on
outdated information, and at least partially based on the ignorance
and stigma associated with cannabinoid medicine, which pervades the
lay public and medical profession alike.

There is a misconception that medical cannabis is "smoking pot,"and
that "pot is pot." Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is now known that humans produce natural cannabinoids that interact
with receptors throughout the body.

The details of why we have this system and what it does naturally are
still being unravelled, but it is becoming apparent that it is an
important physiological system, intimately involved in perception,
learning, regulation of nerve function, immunity and the inflammatory

There is solid evidence that these compounds are effective in chronic
pain and muscle spasticity associated with diseases such as multiple
sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injuries, certain forms of
epilepsy, wasting associated with chronic illness such as cancer, or
AIDS, nausea associated with chemotherapy, and chronic anxiety states.

The adverse affects cited by the ACFP are misleading and

It is stated that these effects are common, and include anxiety,
hallucinations, exacerbations of schizophrenia, and chronic bronchitis
and COPD.

These effects can and do occur, but are by no means common. It is now
known they are caused by THC, one of the many ingredients in cannabis,
and only in very high doses. THC is the one cannabinoid that causes
the marijuana high, and "street" cannabis contains very high levels of

Medicinal cannabis contains nowhere near these THC levels, and the
majority of clinical benefits can be obtained with no THC at all.

Addiction is a very complex subject, but suffice it to say that it is
a separate physical brain disease, and people who have it are no more
likely to use cannabis as their drug of choice than another drug, such
as alcohol. While cannabis can potentially cause mild physical
dependence, it is very uncommon. Cannabis withdrawal is much more of a
concern for people using cannabis recreationally, not medically.

As with any medication, there are some people in whom cannabis is
contraindicated such as schizophrenics, or people with a history of

It is not prescribed to patients with these conditions.

Inhaling smoke of any kind is unhealthy. That is why smoking cannabis
is never recommended in medicinal cannabis therapy.

There are now other options, such as vaporization, and oral ingestion
in a variety of forms.

With people dying daily of opiate overdose and complications, medical
cannabis presents a powerful weapon in the war on opiates.

At the cannabinoid clinic where I work, we have successfully weaned
many patients with chronic pain and inflammatory conditions off
opiates entirely, or drastically reduced their daily intake to safer
levels. As an experienced physician, I will categorically state that
the medicinal ingredients in cannabis are the safest known to medicine.

As a physician, I consider myself a scientist, and would never
prescribe or endorse any therapy for which I did not feel there was
adequate evidence.

I have seen no effort on the part of the press or professional
associations such as the ACFP to critically and honestly examine this

And that truly is a shame.

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James Moir is an Edmonton MD with subspecialty training and clinical 
experience in anesthesiology and pain medicine. He has experience in 
perioperative medicine and training in cannabinoid medicine.
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