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Cannabis - What does it mean to you?

It may surprise you to know that the fastest growing demographic for medical cannabis use is seniors. Since 2014, according to a publication by Schauer et al., in the American Journal Preventative Medicine in 2016, there has been about a 700% growth with adults over the age of 50 utilizing medical cannabis.

Cannabis has been legal for medical use in Canada since 2001 under different regulations.  Fast forward to 2017 and in a monumental moment on October 17th cannabis became federally legal for recreational consumption.  The history behind cannabis starts much earlier than most know of as far as about 5,000 years back it was being used as a medicine.  Commonly used in the 1800s and early 1900s, however, under the first federal marijuana law of 1937 in the United States the substance was prohibited and effectively banned the use of cannabis.

What does it do?

There are studies that show it can be effective to manage pain and spasticity along with people finding benefit to assist with sleep issues, appetite stimulation and to combat nausea (often from chemotherapy).

You have choices when using medical cannabis, there are products with THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannbinol) and products with CBD (cannabidiol).  Now you are wondering what the difference is between those two.

THC and CBD

THC: Cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in certain areas of the brain associated with thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination and time perception. THC attaches to these receptors and activates them which can lead to elevated mood, relaxation, increased appetite, it can also help with pain, sleep and spasticity. THC is the primary molecule responsible for the “High” associated with cannabis.

CBD: Cannabidiol provides the users benefits without the feeling of euphoria or intoxication that some people feel from THC.  CBD has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, in addition to being neuroprotective and help with anxiety.

Both of these forms of cannabis can be consumed in different varieties.  Dried product can be vapourized, oils can be ingested via capsules or consuming the oil right from the dosed syringe.

A recent study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, found that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious for older persons who need relief from chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and other disorders. 2,736 people aged 65 and older found that medical cannabis was safe and effective treatment for pain with 93% of the study participants reporting an improved quality of life following medical cannabis therapy.

“After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported,” said internal medicine Prof. Victor Novack of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and head of the Soroka Clinical Research Center.

Louise’s story

Louise, 78 years old, has suffered for years from debilitating back pain due to spinal stenosis and arthritis.  After two failed spinal surgeries, she was seeking alternatives to the traditional pharmaceutical therapies she currently was taking.  She didn’t like the side effects from the medication and thought there could be a better option, something that was more holistic.

After doing her research (and working with her Pharmacist) she decided she wanted to try out CBD oil to help manage her daytime pain.  With some time invested, she has found her optimal dose and no longer needs any type of traditional pain medication to help her during the day.  Next on the list, help get a good restorative sleep.  Would this be with CBD? Short answer, no.  She needed a little bit of THC to help with sleep and pain management during the night.  Louise takes a small amount of THC oil just before bedtime and is now able to sleep comfortably throughout the night.  The mornings aren’t so painful getting out of bed and she is not feeling impaired at all when she wakes up.  Just well rested. 

Her outlook on life has changed because of her overall feeling of well-being, from morning to night.  Pain doesn’t control how Louise now lives her life, she can now be more involved with activities and within her social network.

This is just one account of how medical cannabis changed a life.  Check with your Pharmacist who is equipped to help support and manage your care to see if medical cannabis could be right for you.

Considering Medical Cannabis?

  1. Talk to your healthcare practitioner or Pharmacist
  2. Or get a referral – Your Pharmacist can assist by providing access to a healthcare practitioner that can perform a comprehensive assessment
  3. Obtain a medical document
    • Fax or mail to the licensed producer
  4. Register with Spectrum Cannabis
    • Fill out registration form online or print it to complete
    • Your Pharmacist will assist with this process.

Author: David Greb, Director, Continuing Care
Canopy Growth Corporation