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Sarah Climaco

Canada’s Arthritis Society has awarded a three-year research grant to McGill University’s Dr. Mark Ware to explore the use of medical cannabis as a fibromyalgia treatment – making it the second round of medical cannabis research funded by the organization in the last 18 months.

According to Statistics Canada numbers from 2014, the chronic pain condition affects nearly 520,000 Canadians – of which about 347,500 are women.

Janet Yale, Arthritis Society CEO, said the investments “are about leading by example,” calling on federal lawmakers to add $25 million to the budget over the next five years to fund medical cannabis research.

“Patients and physicians both need to be able to make informed decisions about whether cannabis has a place in the individual’s treatment plan. With these commitments, The Arthritis Society is doing its part to help fill some of the critical knowledge gaps around medical cannabis, but we can’t do it alone,” Yale said in a press release. “There’s no reason for the government to wait until new legislation is in place to start addressing the need for research identified by their own task force.”

The Arthritis Society indicated that many fibromyalgia patients have reported cannabis therapies help to relieve their symptoms. However, those claims have not yet been confirmed by large-scale cannabis trials. Ware explained that opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often ineffective as fibromyalgia treatments.

“This disease has a tremendous impact on a person’s life but to date we haven’t really had any good treatment options to offer,” Ware said. “We hope to identify whether oral cannabinoids can offer the person with fibromyalgia hope for relief from their symptoms, and help restore their quality of life.”

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