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Canadian Cannabis Legalization: Is it a Barrier to Clinical Research?


by Christine Lewczuk

ctober 17, 2018 ushered in the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. If the explosion of legal marijuana sales across the country on that day wasn’t enough to tell you that Canadians felt their right to weed was long overdue, what would? Aside from edibles, any adult in Canada could now legally purchase up to 30g of cannabis at once without medical authorization. Sales are expected to accelerate in the coming months as licenced producers ramp up their production to meet consumer demands. Current predictions have recreational purchases of cannabis accounting for more than half of the total 2019 Canadian sales to the tune of $4.43B1. In Ontario, brick-and-mortar legal retail stores will arrive this spring and although initially limited in number, large sellers are still hoping for rapid expansion and even franchising. Indeed, the legacy of these Canadians as “passionate purveyors of pot,” may one-day rival Starbucks. Additionally, rapid innovation has handed consumers a plethora of options not limited to just dry cannabis. These include chocolates, gummies, patches, creams, sprays, cosmetics, teas, olive oils, butters, coffee, cola, beer, wine and yes, even weed tampons. Naysayers hoping this lion will soon exit as a lamb had


Cannabis Prospect Magazine | February 2019

better think again. Like it or not, cannabis in Canada is here to stay. But what happens to the medical cannabis patient in this recreational ruckus? Will the medical scholarship of cannabis be made irrelevant? Canadians are asking for more information on cannabis use and medical marijuana patients want their questions on safety, therapeutic benefits, long-term administration and drug interactions answered. Although patients enter the cannabis space for a variety of reasons, for many it is often the result of failed conventional treatments with a last-ditch hope that medical marijuana will be the answer. These vulnerable individuals approach cannabis with hope and want their information from a source they know and trust – their doctor. From April 2017 to September 2018, the total number of medical cannabis client registrations with Licenced Producers (LPs) increased by approximately 96% to 342,1032 and continues to grow still. Unfortunately for them, the Canadian Medical Association’s (CMA) current stance on marijuana is unsupportive for most indications, due in part to the lack of evidence-based guidelines on appropriate dosing and possible drug interactions. Furthermore, since Canadians can now obtain cannabis