Both historical and contemporary research points to Cannabis as a powerful tool in the integrative treatment of complex diseases. Cannabis has many mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic targets.  It can treat multiple medical conditions and symptoms concurrently, thereby reducing polypharmacy and unwanted pharmaceutical side effects.  Cannabis may be a viable consideration for otherwise intractable problems, such as the current opioid crisis. Additionally, it may be an option for patients with conditions which are poorly understood, or have limited treatments (or treatments with limited response) – such as chronic pain, concussions, cancer and related symptoms, MS, epilepsy, PTSD etc.

Cannabis is a complex plant containing more than 500 compounds. Although CBD and THC are the most widely recognized and researched cannabinoids, many other constituents are medically active. The basic pharmacology of cannabinoids including absorption, metabolism (pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics),  drug interactions and effective dosing are still being elucidated. The clinical benefits which have been observed are broad and include anxiety, pain, mood, sleep, muscle relaxation, nausea and many others. In order to move forward, an increase in basic science and clinical research is required to objectively assess the benefits and adverse effects in humans.

In addition to scientific investigation, there is also a need for medical education. Patients using cannabis for medical purposes often obtain advice from industry and commercial sources which lack the capacity to assess individual health conditions or provide informed consent. Most health care providers are also limited in their knowledge due the lack of information included in medical, pharmaceutical, and nursing education.

Public education and knowledge translation targeting both the end user and complementary service providers including dispensaries, health care insurers, the legal system, law enforcement and government will also help to ensure that medical cannabis…