Vancouver Researchers Urge Canadian Doctors to Prescribe Medical Cannabis Over Opioids

Vancouver HIV/AIDS researchers have published an editorial urging Canadian doctors to prescribe medical marijuana instead of opioids, which tend to be abused, for neuropathic pain and other conditions. The editorial appears in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

Thomas Kerr, Julio Montaner and Stephanie Lake, researchers at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, argue in the editorial that the Canadian Medical Association unfairly holds marijuana to a higher standard than other drugs prescribed for pain relief.

Dr. Kerr, who serves as co-director of the center’s Urban Health Research Initiative, says that doctors are hesitant about prescribing a drug not yet approved by Health Canada, even though the research into marijuana’s therapeutic benefits is quite positive.

“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 conditions and it also seems, in many cases, that cannabis has a more favourable side-effect profile,” he said.

In contrast, opioids tend to be abused: “Opioids are killing people right now,” said Dr. Kerr. “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 overdose deaths.”

Cindy Forbes, president of the Canadian Medical Association, issued a statement in response:

“The limited clinical evidence combined with very limited guidance for the therapeutic use of marijuana pose a challenge for physicians in providing the best care to patients.”


Photo Credit: Jamie

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