May 31, 2017
Part 1: Harmless therapeutic treatment? The case for medical marijuana
Canada is poised to enter uncharted territory this spring, when the Liberal government introduces legislation to legalize marijuana. With the exception of Uruguay, no other major Western nation has fully legalized the drug.
The Canadian government’s push to legalize cannabis has galvanized the country. Anti-marijuana and pro-marijuana lobby groups have been pleading their cases, while citizens, politicians and many in the medical community are divided over the issue.
Although legalization of marijuana in Canada centres around its recreational use, the medical use of cannabis has been permitted by the government for several years, and its use as a therapeutic treatment has also been contentious. Marijuana is regarded by some health care practitioners as a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals, and thousands of Canadians can legally use the drug for medical purposes.
It’s unclear whether new marijuana laws will mean doctors will no longer need to prescribe the drug for patients who use it for medical reasons. Meanwhile, 43 per cent of physicians believe there should be a single regulatory system (meaning no distinction between medicinal and recreational use) while 39 per cent support a dual regime.1 Either way, access to marijuana will be far less cumbersome for those who use it for medical purposes once the government paves the way for the rest of the country to legally buy the drug.
Given the propensity to self-diagnose in this day and age of Dr. Google, will more Canadians turn to marijuana to help heal whatever ails them, especially if they won’t require the formal blessing of a doctor? It’s hard to dismiss this possibility. Meanwhile, evidence substantiating the therapeutic use of marijuana is another hotly debated topic, as is whether the potential benefits of medical marijuana outweigh its purported harmful effects. In our next posts, let’s take a look at both sides of the debate.
Those in favour of medical marijuana claim it is a safe and effective alternative to traditional drugs, and while clinical evidence supporting such claims may be scant, there is no shortage of stories from people who say medical marijuana saved them when traditional therapies failed.
Continued next week: Dangerous, addictive drug? The case against medical marijuana