For­get about the cannabis band­wagon

Doc­tors owe it to Is­lan­ders to be­come in­formed about med­i­cal mar­i­juana

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL - BY KAT MUR­PHY Kat Mur­phy, co-chair of PEIMUMM, is an artist and med­i­cal cannabist pa­tient/ad­vo­cate, who lives in Char­lot­te­town.

Re­cently, Dr. Des Colohan, re­tired pain-spe­cial­ist, opined in this news­pa­per the “dan­gers” as­so­ci­ated with us­ing cannabis. He summed up his opin­ion on cannabis with the quote:

“In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the ther­a­peu­tic value of cannabis in man­ag­ing chronic pain is lim­ited by its ad­verse ef­fects. We still have a lot to learn about the ap­pro­pri­ate clin­i­cal use of 'med­i­cal mar­i­juana' and should not be in a hurry to jump on this band­wagon.”

Dr. Colohan fails to men­tion that the “band­wagon” of med­i­cal cannabis has been rolling for thou­sands of years within the Chi­nese, Ayurvedic and Ara­bic medic­i­nal tra­di­tions and, un­til rel­a­tively re­cently, even in our Western al­lo­pathic medicine sys­tem, cannabis tinc­tures were stan­dard med­i­cal fare in any doc­tor's black bag.

While we would all pre­fer to live in a world where no one needed to use med­i­cal cannabis, given the re­al­ity of life on P.E.I. and our high rate of can­cers and other dis­eases, we should take our heads out of the beau­ti­ful red sand and give them a col­lec­tive shake.

In the case of chronic pain man­age­ment, it is a case of the lesser of two evils for many pa­tients de­cid­ing to use cannabis, as op­posed to opi­oids and, for­tu­nately, the cannabis sativa plant is rel­a­tively gen­tle in its side ef­fects, if used wisely and with cau­tion.

Ad­dic­tions to opi­oids is a ma­jor is­sue on P.E.I., some go as far as to say that it has reached epi­demic pro­por­tions, yet the Is­land's only pain spe­cial­ist did not feel it was ap­pro­pri­ate to pre­scribe less toxic, med­i­cal cannabis be­cause of the ab­sence of clin­i­cal tri­als.

Ad­dic­tion rates to opi­oids (Per­co­cet, codeine, etc.) rou­tinely pre­scribed by Is­land doc­tors, are much higher and the costs to Is­land fam­i­lies are im­mea­sur­able.

Ed­u­cat­ing the public about the safe and ef­fec­tive use of cannabis is the first step in pro­vid­ing pa­tients with an al­ter­na­tive to the more dan­ger­ous phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals killing our cit­i­zens.

Med­i­cal cannabis is a rapidly evolv­ing field of medicine and its prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions are many and di­verse.

A proac­tive physi­cian would be well ad­vised to go to the ef­fort to get the nec­es­sary train­ing to be in­formed and pro­vide his or her pa­tients with re­li­able, un­bi­ased re­search about “cannabis as medicine” for a spec­trum of neuro-de­gen­er­a­tive brain dis­eases, and other con­di­tions.

Med­i­cal cannabis is not a “band­wagon”, it is a “tsunami”, and P.E.I. physi­cians need to heed the warn­ing to “get with it” and pro­vide their pa­tients with re­li­able and cur­rent in­for­ma­tion for their health op­tions.

PEIMUMM agrees with Dr. Colohan that we all have a lot to learn about med­i­cal cannabis.

We en­cour­age P.E.I. health care pro­fes­sion­als to be­come bet­ter ed­u­cated about med­i­cal cannabis and con­nect to some of the latest re­search.

We welcome any op­por­tu­nity to de­bate/ed­u­cate the mer­its of med­i­cal cannabis with Is­land healthcare pro­fes­sion­als, gov­ern­ment lead­ers or any in­ter­ested or­ga­ni­za­tion. Please email PEIMUMM@ya­

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