A long-desired set of clinical practice guidelines for the use of cannabis-based medicines is being developed, which should help resolve a wide knowledge gap among medical professionals.
In a statement Thursday, the Canadian AIDS Society shared the research initiative outlined in the British Medical Journal (Open) to develop standards that would authorize cannabis and cannabinoid-based products for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain in Canada.
In order to remedy a dearth of understanding, the AIDS Society has formed a task force of leaders in the medical cannabis field to lead in the research and development of this protocol and subsequent clinical practice guidelines.
“Chronic pain and co-occurring disorders, such as sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, are among the most common conditions for which cannabis and cannabinoid-based products derived from the cannabis plant (CBP) are used for therapeutic purposes,” reads the abstract of the initiative. “However, healthcare providers report that they lack sufficient information on the risks, benefits and appropriate use of cannabis and CBP derived from the cannabis plant for therapeutic purposes.”
In this systematic review, researchers say they will prepare a detailed, up-to-date tool for healthcare providers and patients to assist them with decisions about medicine derived from the cannabis as a treatment option.
Read more: Canada declares medical cannabis essential
The AIDS Society expressed gratitude for its partnership with Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX: WEED) and its medical division Spectrum Therapeutics for funding the project. It also thanked the Canadian Institute of Health Research and the Arthritis Society for their support.
We are excited to share that @BMJ_Open has published a CAS-led protocol for Canadian clinical practice guidelines for the use of cannabis for chronic pain. Thanks to the task force, @CanopyGrowth, @CIHR_IRSC, & @arthritissoc for their support! Read at https://t.co/iN6TN9kThd. pic.twitter.com/LO6aTiEgfl
— Canadian AIDS Soc. (@CDNAIDS) June 11, 2020
The BMJ Open’s publication of this protocol highlights the importance of community research to complement scientific research, the society says, and through this holistic approach the patient will be centered in the outcomes. According to the society, widespread use of this protocol and the future guidelines are a significant step towards ensuring all Canadians living with chronic pain across the country have access to cannabis as a tool for pain management.
“This research will pave the way for people living with chronic pain to have a new path to coping with their pain, and because of its innovative nature, we hope that it could serve as a model for similar guidelines for other ailments in the future,” says Gary Lacasse, executive director of the Canadian AIDS Society.
Canopy CEO David Klein says his company is proud to support the work being done by the AIDS Society through this multi-year partnership.
“They are a trailblazing, patient-centric organization that has advocated for access to medical cannabis for decades,” he said in the statement. “Our hope is that the clinical guidelines, when published, will play a significant role in the ongoing efforts to break down barriers to access medical cannabis in Canada and the world.”
Assistant professor Dr. Cecilia Costiniuk of McGill University says the publication of this protocol represents an important milestone by documenting the rationale and planned process for the creation of the guidelines.
“These evidence-based guidelines will help busy clinicians and patients make sense of the flurry of information out there on the use of plant-based cannabis and cannabinoid-based products for the management of chronic non-cancer pain and co-occurring conditions,” she says.