Vancouver-based HIV/AIDS researchers argue in a newly published editorial that Canadian doctors should use medical marijuana instead of frequently abused opioids to treat patients with neuropathic pain, as well as many other conditions that cannabis has been proven to help with.
Doctors Frustrated by Slow Government Action on Cannabis
Dr. Thomas Kerr, Dr. Julio Montaner and Research Associate Stephanie Lake of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS accused the Canadian Medical Association of ignoring peer-reviewed cannabis studies. According to Dr. Kerr, five recent randomized control trials and two systemic reviews found that cannabis helps with neuropathic pain. However, doctors still don’t like to prescribe medical marijuana as it hasn’t been approved by Health Canada, the government department that oversees healthcare issues in the country.
“The evidence supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis is actually much stronger than the use of other drugs that are used to treat the same condition and it also seems, in many cases, that cannabis has a more favorable side-effect profile,” Dr. Kerr said. He also mentioned that opioids such as oxycodone, morphine and hydromorphine are increasingly prescribed and contributed to almost half of all overdose deaths in the country.
Medicinal Marijuana Effective at Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths
Dr. Kerr also commented, “Opioids are killing people right now. There is no association with cannabis and mortality, and yet North America is in the midst of, really, what is a public-health emergency associated to opioid deaths. If doctors prescribed more cannabis to those with chronic pain, they may cut down on these deaths.”
Research in the U.S. shows that fatal overdoses dropped by 25% in states that enacted medicinal marijuana laws. Dr. Kerr states that medicinal cannabis has also proven to relieve spasticity and the wasting associated with HIV/AIDS, as well as nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.