Are you thinking about using medical cannabis? Are you unsure about whether it is right for you? Then the best thing to do is get some expert advice.
As the medication management experts of the health team and the most accessible front-line health-care providers, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to advise you on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis, especially if you are taking other prescription medications. Although pharmacies are not yet dispensing medical cannabis, London Drugs now has Cannabis Educators at select locations. These specially trained pharmacists are available to answer questions about medical cannabis use. Here are some of the most common questions we can help answer.
What health concerns can medical cannabis help with?
Medical cannabis has been able to help people living with a host of symptoms and conditions. In some cases, these patients have suffered for years because they have not responded to conventional treatments.
What conditions can medical cannabis help? Health Canada recognizes the following:
- Chronic pain
- Severe, resistant nausea and vomiting
- Wasting syndrome and loss of appetite
- Muscle spasm caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal cord injury
- Epileptic seizures
- Mobility issues caused by Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and other movement disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
- Anxiety and depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
How is medical cannabis taken?
Cannabis is generally either inhaled or taken orally. Inhaling cannabis produces a swifter, stronger effect than consuming it orally, but the effect doesn’t last as long. Of the two inhalation methods—smoking and vaporizing—vaporization’s lower temperature usually produces fewer toxic by-products (carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and tar) than smoking. Therefore, smoking cannabis is not recommended.
Currently, there are no clinical studies on the therapeutic effects of edible cannabis products such as oils and foods. However, oral ingestion leads to slower, less consistent absorption of the cannabinoids (the active substances in cannabis), but the effects tend to last longer.
There is no set dosage that is right for everyone. Your age, medical condition(s), how often you use it, your previous experience with cannabis, and other prescription or non-prescription drugs you take are all factors in determining the right dosage for you.
For example, for patients taking multiple medications, pharmacists may recommend a medication review to help identify potential drug interactions and side effects, and to select the right dose and strain of cannabis. Because no scientifically defined dosage of cannabis has been established for any medical condition, your health-care provider will work with you to determine the most suitable amount, strain, and method of using medical cannabis to meet your particular needs.
Is medical cannabis right for everyone?
No, there are some people who should not use medical cannabis. This is part of the reason it is so important to discuss this treatment option with your health-care prescriber.
More scientific studies will need to be done in order to determine a complete list of reasons why someone should not take cannabis, but as a general guideline, Health Canada recommends that you should not use medical cannabis if you:
- Are under the age of 25 (except under certain circumstances)
- Are allergic to smoke or to any cannabinoid
- Have serious liver, kidney, heart, or lung disease
- Have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder
- Are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breastfeeding
- Are a man who wishes to start a family
- Have abused drugs or alcohol, or have a history of substance dependence
Medication reviews are available at all London Drugs locations. Cannabis Educators are available to meet with patients at the following London Drugs locations. Call the pharmacy to book an appointment.
British Columbia Locations:
- Broadway and Vine, Vancouver
- Marine Way and Byrne, Vancouver
- West Broadway, Vancouver
- Duncan, Duncan
- Nanaimo North Town Centre, Nanaimo
- Lansdowne Village, Kamloops
- Penticton, Penticton