Is Medical Cannabis for Me?

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Thousands of Canadians with chronic or terminal illnesses rely on medical cannabis to manage their symptoms and feel better. Is it a treatment option for you? These are the answers to common questions about its use as medicine.

What symptoms and conditions is it used for?

Medical cannabis has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of many illnesses when conventional medicine isn’t enough:

  • Arthritis pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Bone or inflammatory cancer pain
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting from cancer treatment

What are THC and CBD?

The cannabis plant contains 144 different compounds called phytocannabinoids. The two most researched are THC and CBD.

 

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How does it work in the body?

The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that’s involved in many processes (e.g., inflammation, pain perception, appetite, mood, memory). We naturally produce our own cannabinoids, which pass messages between the brain and different body parts through your neurons and receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are scattered throughout our bodies—in the brain, nervous system, immune system, bones, joints, tissues, and organs. Cannabinoids attach to these receptors, which act like locks on our cells. When the cannabinoids (the keys) deliver messages like pain or nausea to the receptors, the locks open and trigger a response.

Aging and some medical conditions affect the proper functioning of the ECS, which can lead to symptoms such as pain. Medical cannabis works by harnessing your ECS. The cannabinoids from cannabis supplement the cannabinoids normally produced by the body. They bind to the cannabinoid receptors and trigger a response in the body—such as relieving pain.

How do I get it?

To obtain medical cannabis, you need a signed medical document (similar to a prescription) from a doctor. Then you register with a Licensed Producer (LP) and order your medicine.

Does it matter where I get it?

Buying marijuana from compassion clubs or storefronts is illegal. LPs have extensive quality, safety, and security requirements, and are routinely inspected by Health Canada. CanniMed Ltd., for example, is an LP that provides a standardized and trusted supply of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis. Not only is their cannabis grown in a controlled, sanitary environment, every batch undergoes rigorous testing for bacteria, toxins, and moulds.

Is it safe?

The safety of cannabis can only be ensured if it’s purchased from an LP. No one has died from a cannabis overdose. This is because the ECS has very few—if any—cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem (which regulates respiration and heart rate). Compare that to opiates (for example oxycodone), the body has many opioid receptors in the brainstem and when these receptors get bombarded people can stop breathing and die.

Do I have to smoke it?

No. Vaporization, when cannabis is heated to a temperature that vaporizes, but doesn’t burn the cannabinoids, is the optimal delivery method for dried herbal cannabis. Cannabis oils are heated and fully prepared before delivery to patients. Oils are ingested by applying droplets under the tongue or adding them to food or drinks, making them ideal for patients who can’t, or prefer not to, inhale cannabis vapor.

Is there real medical research to support it?

Beyond the anecdotal benefits, there are over 12,000 journal articles and robust clinical trials showing the safety and effectiveness of cannabis. Universities, healthcare professionals, LPs, and research institutes are collaborating in Health Canada-approved trials on cannabis.

Can it reduce the amount of pills I take?

Medical cannabis can help ease patients off medications like painkillers, tranquilizers, sedatives, hypnotics, sleeping pills, and benzodiazepines—medications that have the potential for long-term side effects. Cannabis even boosts our body’s own production of natural painkillers.

Do I have to get stoned?

The THC in cannabis is what causes the high. Products that have a low THC content and a high CBD content will have almost no such effect. Medical cannabis patients typically use a tenth the amount of THC compared to recreational users. The goal with medical cannabis is not to get high.

CARP members receive a $50 credit upon registration as a new CanniMed patient and 5% off Patient Direct Pricing or current best price offer, on medical cannabis products.

This advertorial was produced with the generous support of CanniMed. Learn more at CanniMed.ca.

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