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Cannabis “Streams” Should Be Kept Separate In Canada

Canadians in the cannabis industry have a lot to work out before the recreational cannabis market goes live across the country in 2018. In addition to regulations and policies that will shape the presence of this impending market, researchers are now urging the federal government to consider the different ways in which recreational cannabis should be handled, in comparison to medicinal cannabis.

Dr. Melanie Kelly, a professor of pharmacology and ophthalmology at Dalhousie University, and Elizabeth Cairns, a PhD candidate studying pharmacology and neuroscience, are the two researchers who authored an op-ed that was then published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The co-authored piece implores the Liberal government’s taskforce on cannabis regulation to keep these two avenues of cannabis separate.

“[Patients] are potentially looking for a totally different product and there’s no guarantee with a market that’s recreationally driven that that product will be maintained and sold,” said Cairns, who opposes the Canadian Medical Association’s recommendation of just one “stream” of cannabis being legalized. Dr. Granger Avery, president of the CMA, states that the medical authority is not comfortable recommending cannabis for medicinal intervention.

Cairns is quick to point out that recreational use of cannabis serves one purpose-to get high, which is fine. But medical cannabis refers to a wide array of products, including exclusively CBD products that do not contain THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

In addition to reducing the stigma that medical cannabis patients face, Cairns and Kelly assert that keeping these two avenues of cannabis use separated benefits patients in other ways. These benefits include:

  • Protecting strains and product supplies that contain little to no THC, such as products used in the treatment of children with epilepsy.
  • Endorsing further research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
  • Offering healthcare providers an added incentive to remain up-to-date on matters concerning the usefulness, safety and applications of medicinal cannabis.

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