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Canadian Hospitals Launch Medical Cannabis Trial

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jul 10, 2020   
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University Health Network, a hospital network in Toronto, Canada, has launched its first clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of medical cannabis.

Conducted over six months, the study hopes to include 2,000 patients from across Canada who live with chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Taking the questionnaire

Dubbed the Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence (MC-RWE) clinical trial, the study will provide patients with a range of tested products, including edibles and extracts, to treat their conditions with. Symptom changes will be tracked through four standard questionnaires, which participants will receive at least $5 (US $3.68) for completing.

Recreational cannabis consumers and those already registered with the trial’s sponsor, Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, are excluded from becoming participants.

“The challenge with the medical use of cannabis is that physicians and patients are unsure of the quality of products being consumed,” Dr Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital and director of the new trial, said in a statement.

“For the first time we will have a national repository of data that can provide answers about the effectiveness of these products, to test their claims.”

Cannabis on trial

While the evidence base for medical cannabis still has some gaps, there are areas of treatment that have been significantly researched.

One of the most comprehensive scientific reviews to ever assess medical cannabis’ efficacy concluded in 2017 that there was enough evidence to support treatment in three areas: to relieve chronic pain, to alleviate nausea from chemotherapy, and to reduce spasms from multiple sclerosis.

But more recent reviews haven’t been as kind to cannabis as a treatment for certain mental health conditions.

A major review published in the Lancet Psychiatry last year – which described itself as the “most comprehensive review of the evidence to date” – found little evidence to support medicinal cannabis or pharmaceutical CBD’s use to relieve depression and anxiety.

Any individual or physician wishing to take part in the MC-RWE trial can learn more here. 


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