Forget about the cannabis bandwagon
Doctors owe it to Islanders to become informed about medical marijuana
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@yahoo.ca