Tag: medical marijuana

How Cannabis Can Combat the Opioid Epidemic: An Interview With Philippe Lucas

Philippe Lucas has deep roots in Canada’s cannabis culture. After co-founding the Vancouver Island Compassion Society medical dispensary in 1999, Lucas applied himself to cannabis science, working as a graduate researcher with the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia and serving as founding board member of both the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies Canada and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. In 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his research on medical cannabis.

Philippe Lucas

(Full disclosure/fun fact: He’s also Vice President of Patient Advocacy at Tilray, the cannabis production company owned by Privateer Holdings, which also owns Leafly.)

Most recently, Lucas is the author of a new study: “Rationale for cannabis-based interventions in the opioid overdose crisis,” published last month in the Harm Reduction Journal. In the study, Lucas lays out a variety of roles that cannabis might play in combatting the opioid epidemic, which currently kills 38,000 people in the U.S. and Canada each year and ranks as the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

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His study added an important perspective to the growing body of evidence supporting the notion of cannabis as healing tool in the opioid crisis. That idea is quickly moving into mainstream thought, as we’ve seen recently with the public pronouncements of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and, just this week, Dr. Oz.

Over the phone from his office in Nanaimo, Lucas let me interrogate him about specifics of the study.

Dave Schmader: What inspired you to undertake this study?

Philippe Lucas: Whether it’s medical use or recreational use, cannabis appears to be having an impact on the rates of opioid abuse. This study is a summation of the evidence, and I’ve taken that summation to suggest three opportunities for cannabis to intervene in the opioid crisis.

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And those are…?

First is introduction—if physicians start recommending the use of medical cannabis prior to introducing patients to opioids, those patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use that all too often leads to abuse or overuse or overdose.

“Patients that find cannabis to be a successful treatment for their chronic pain might never have to walk down the very tricky path of opioid use.”

The second opportunity is reduction, for those patients who are successfully using opioids in the treatment of their chronic pain or other conditions but are worried about increasing their use of opioids over time. The evidence suggests you can introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment and reduce the cravings for opioids, therefore potentially steering people away and reducing the risk of opioid overdose and opioid dependence.

The third part is cessation. Once individuals have become dependent on opioids and they recognize that dependence and are seeking treatment for it through opioid replacement therapy like methadone and suboxone, you can potentially introduce cannabis as an adjunct treatment to increase the success rate of the methadone or suboxone treatment. The reason this point is so important is that when people with an opioid dependence fail out of treatment, that’s the period where they become the most vulnerable to potential overdose. Replacement therapy has failed, they’re at their most vulnerable, and they go back to the illicit drug market, potentially risking overdose.

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A key concept in the study is the “substitution effect.”

Yes. The substitution effect is an economic concept that suggests that the use of one substance never stands alone. In fact, the use of one substance can affect the use of another. When it comes to psychoactive substances, the use of a substance can be affected by changes in price, changes in legality or regulatory access, or changes in the product itself in terms of potency. And that can really affect the use of another drug.

“In medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths.”

A 2014 study showed that in medical cannabis states, there was a 25 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths compared to neighboring states that didn’t have medical cannabis programs. There’s a growing body of research showing that simply making medical cannabis available in a number of US states and in Canada has reduced rates of not just opioid use, but also the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit substances,

often leading to total abstinence of those substances. So we’re looking at cannabis as a potential therapeutic agent, but also as a harm reduction agent when it comes to problematic substance use. This evidence suggests cannabis could be an exit drug to problematic substance use and addiction.

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In the study you write, “Cannabis augments the pain-relieving potential of opioids and can re-potentiate their effects.” Tell me about re-potentiation.

Research suggests that when you use cannabis alongside opioids in the treatment of chronic pain, you seem to get a synergistic effect—a greater effect than you might have if each was taken individually. People who have been using opioids for some time sometimes have to increase their dose, and cannabis presents another option for physicians, so instead of increasing the dose of opioids they can instead prescribe medical cannabis as an adjunct treatment in order to keep the patient at a lower dose of opioids, thereby reducing the risk of overdose.

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Another study quote: “[I]t would seem logical to seek to develop policies and associated education strategies to increase physician support for cannabis for therapeutic purposes in the treatment of chronic pain.” This does seem logical. What are the chances of it happening?

Right now we’re facing this tremendous public-health threat around the opioid overdose crisis. Opioid overdose is the most common cause of accidental death in Canada and the US right now. The over-prescription of opioids seems to be leading the way, in that four out of five people currently injecting opioids say that they started by using prescription opioids. There’s an oversaturation of the market and an over-availability on the black market.

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I think that if we can shift prescription patterns by physicians—so that instead of first prescribing opioids and then, if those opioids fail, moving on to medical cannabis—we can modernize those policies and instead focus on introducing medical cannabis first. That’s based on all the available evidence, which indicates that it’s far less harmful than prescription opioids in terms of dependence and risk of overdose.

Right now in Canada and in US states with medical marijuana, physicians are encouraged to prescribe opioids first and if those don’t work, cannabis is considered as a third- or fourth-line treatment option. We need to flip that around and make cannabis the second-line treatment option and move opioids to third or fourth options if indeed cannabinoids are not successful.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

New Brunswick Announces $90 Million Cannabis Buy

Among the many questions facing Canadian provinces as the country speeds toward its July 1 cannabis-legalization deadline: Where will all this freshly legal recreational cannabis come from?

Late last week, New Brunswick stepped up with an answer, announcing multimillion-dollar deals with a pair of federally licensed medical marijuana producers. New Brunswick’s Organigram Holdings will supply the province with five million grams of cannabis a year, and Ontario’s Canopy Growth Corp. will provide an additional four million grams per year.

Together, the two producers will sell New Brunswick over $90 million worth of cannabis annually. “As part of their supply agreements with New Brunswick, Canopy and Organigram said they will help fund public education or social programs,” reports the Financial Post. (The Post also notes that shares of both Canopy and Organigram rose on the day of the deal’s announcement, “closing up by 2.09 per cent and 16.74 per cent, respectively.”)

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Speaking to CBC News, Canopy Growth president Mark Zekulin expressed excitement about “one of the biggest drug deals in Canadian history,” while Organigram CEO Greg Engel noted the deal will require his company to double its number of employees over the next six to eight months.

Along with its humongous cannabis buy, New Brunswick also announced the creation of a new Crown corporation that will oversee—but not conduct—cannabis sales. “[T]he creation of this new provincial Crown corporation provides the flexibility and lays the groundwork for the eventual retail model once final decisions around that have been made,” Provincial Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said in a press release.

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This “Crown corporation” model has already drawn criticism, with Tory MLA Ross Wetmore telling the CBC that such a model requires the government to assume the costs of distribution and all liability for sales. “We don’t know how the sales are going to go, it’s going to be legal all across the country,” he said. “People aren’t going to flock to New Brunswick.”

Meanwhile, the New Brunswick Medical Society praised the arrangement as the best approach for regulating recreational cannabis sales. “We reiterate our recommendation that, unlike NB Liquor, the corporation managing the sale of cannabis should not be profit-driven or subject to a profit target established by the provincial government,” said Dr. Dharm Singh, president-elect of the society, in a statement to the CBC.

Stay tuned for specifics on how and where New Brunswick’s $90 million worth of cannabis will be sold (and for how much).


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Podcast: ‘The Roll-Up,’ Episode 2, Utah Thinks It’s Punny

The Roll-Up features Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader in a Friday morning roundtable about the week’s top cannabis news.

Leafly Podcast

Episode 002: Opening the Hatch

This week: Bruce, Ben, and Dave wrap their heads around Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s pun-tastic defense of medical marijuana and Ontario’s plan to open province-run cannabis stores. Also: Leafly writer Gage Peake explains how the cannabis industry supports 149,000 jobs.

What’s this show all about then? Every Friday, Leafly editors Bruce Barcott, Ben Adlin, and Dave Schmader dissect the week’s top stories in cannabis with analysis, arguments, jokes, and obscure cultural references.

‘The Roll-Up’: It’s a news and culture podcast that hits the sweet spot between stoned and scholarly.

Previous Episodes:

Stories Mentioned In Episode 2:

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Senate Stunner: Orrin Hatch Passionately Defends Medical Marijuana

In a surprising move, US Sen. Orrin Hatch, a conservative Utah Republican and longtime cannabis prohibitionist, today introduced a bill to encourage more research into the effectiveness of medical cannabis.

Hatch didn’t just quietly introduce the bill, though. Rather, he took to the Senate floor and gave a passionate speech in defense of the use of medical marijuana, saying the plant “has the potential to help millions of Americans,” and “can truly change people’s lives for the better.”

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” he added. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”

What the MEDS Bill Would Do

The Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act of 2017 (MEDS Act) debuts with four other co-sponsors, including Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The MEDS bill would:

  • Encourage more research on the potential medical uses of marijuana by streamlining the research registration process, without imposing a scheduling determination on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
  • Make marijuana more available for legitimate scientific and medical research and the commercial production of any FDA-approved drugs derived from marijuana.
  • Retain important checks to protect against diversion or abuse of the controlled marijuana substances.
  • Require the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to develop and publish recommendations for good manufacturing practices for growing and producing marijuana for research.
  • Require the attorney general to increase the national marijuana quota in a timely manner to meet the changing medical, scientific, and industrial needs for marijuana.
  • Codify the administration’s decision to terminate the Public Health Service and its review of proposals for medical research on marijuana.Prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from instituting any other marijuana-specific protocol reviews, other than the voluntary review that a researcher can request from National Institutes of Health (NIH) in order to access the expedited DEA registration process.

A Movement Moment

Hatch’s statement on the Senate floor today represented one of the more remarkable moments in recent medical marijuana history. A longtime Republican icon, Hatch represents one of the nation’s most culturally conservative states. During his speech, he reiterated that he remains “strongly against the recreational use of marijuana,” and is “concerned about the cottage industry springing up” around the adult use of cannabis.

Nevertheless, he said, “we would be remiss if we threw out the baby with the bathwater.”

“It doesn’t take a sweeping overhaul of Obamacare” to substantially improve America’s healthcare, Hatch said, speaking of the medical potential of cannabis-based treatments. “Sometimes even small things can have big impacts on people’s lives.”

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Why Hatch? Why Now?

What brought about the conservative senator’s changed outlook? He left a few clues in his floor speech. It sounds as though personal stories, the evidence of close friends, and America’s opioid crisis had a profound effect on his thinking around the issue.

Hatch included a reference to “my friend” who found him or herself taking 17 pills a day, including powerful opioids. That friend was able to find relief, and leave behind the pills, Hatch said, thanks to medical cannabis.

The opioid crisis clearly had an effect. “In Utah, and across the nation, opioid abuse continues to ravage hard-working families,” Hatch said. “Many are seeking non-narcotic alternatives,” including medical cannabis. “After deliberative thought,” he said, “I’ve determined that it’s an alternative worth pursuing.”

That statement is something close to stunning. Just a few months ago many political leaders dismissed out-of-hand the notion that cannabis could be a helpful tool in combatting America’s opioid crisis.

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To be clear: Hatch’s bill doesn’t federally legalize medical marijuana. It ramps up scientific access to cannabis research. But for a senator like Hatch, that represents an enormous step forward on this issue. And his floor speech hints that he may be an advocate in the ongoing fight to protect the legal rights of medical patients in legal states.

The bipartisan nature of his MEDS Act, Hatch said, “represents what our two parties can accomplish when we work together in good faith.”

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Trump-Dem Budget Deal Extends MMJ Protections to Dec. 8

Medical marijuana patients, growers, and dispensaries have three more months of protection from Jeff Sessions and any federal crackdown, thanks to the deal cut late last week between President Trump and Congressional leaders.

The hurricane relief, federal spending, and debt ceiling agreement between President Trump and Congressional Democratic leaders included a Rohrabacher-Blumenauer clause, which will effectively shield state medical marijuana programs from federal intrusion until December 8, 2017.

The language in the deal means the Department of Justice may not use any funds to prevent states—as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—from “implementing a law that authorizes the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The Trump-Dem deal, which caught Republican leaders by surprise, effectively ended (at least temporarily) the move by House Republicans to scuttle the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. That measure, which has been in place in various forms since 2014, uses a budget amendment to prevent the various Justice Department agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from arresting and prosecuting people abiding by state medical cannabis laws.

How did that happen?

Early Wednesday, the House approved a standalone measure to provide nearly $8 billion in relief to Hurricane Harvey victims. The House sent the measure to the Senate on a 419-3 vote. Senate Democratic leaders picked up the Harvey bill and bundled it with a federal spending package and debt ceiling extension. Republican leaders hated the co-mingling of the bills, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the idea “ridiculous.”

But President Trump wanted to move past the budget and debt debate and get on with trying to pass a tax reform package–and he may have seen the Democrats’ offer as a way to do it.

In effect, Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders presented President Trump with dueling offers late Wednesday. Trump went with the Democratic package, which funded Hurricane Harvey relief to Texas and extended federal spending and the debt ceiling through December 8. With the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within days of running out of money, Congress was under intense pressure to pass hurricane relief. Congressional leaders relented, passing the Harvey-budget-debt deal in the House and Senate with heavy Democratic support and light Republican opposition.

The upshot: Hurricane Harvey victims receive relief, and the federal budget and debt ceiling debate gets kicked down the road to early December.

Where did medical cannabis fit in?

The key, for cannabis purposes, is that last week’s deal was based on the Senate version of the federal spending package, which had already passed earlier this year. That version included the medical marijuana protection language. The House version of the federal spending measure specifically did not include that language, thanks to a maneuver by the House Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

But the House version had yet to be voted on, while the Senate had already passed its bill—so the deal included the Senate language, not the House. The final deal had nothing to do with medical marijuana, but patients and providers benefitted nonetheless.

Of course, the whole thing (except the hurricane aid) expires in three months. So we’ll see you back here in early December.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Can Medical Marijuana Patients Legally Own Guns?

Is it legal to own a firearm as a legally registered medical marijuana patient? The simple answer is no, but how strictly is this law enforced?

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Cannabis and Gun Control Policy

Christopher Morales, a California criminal defense attorney, provided some legal insight into this complex matter. “The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone from possessing guns if they use or are addicted to cannabis,” Morales explained.

“The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits anyone from possessing guns if they use or are addicted to cannabis.”

Christopher Morales, San Francisco criminal defense attorney

The exact wording of the federal law prohibits any “unlawful user” or addict of cannabis (or any other federally restricted substance) from purchasing guns, even if that individual resides in a state with legal medical or adult-use cannabis laws.

A Nevada medical marijuana patient named S. Rowan Wilson challenged the ruling after she attempted to purchase a firearm for self-defense in 2011. When the gun store refused to sell to her, she filed a lawsuit challenging the federal statute against gun ownership by a lawful marijuana patient.

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The case went all the way to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, where, on August 31, 2016, Chief District Judge Gloria Navarro ruled that a federal government ban of gun sales to abiding state-legal medical marijuana patients does not violate the Second Amendment.

The Background Check Loophole

Although the ruling makes this policy seem pretty definitive, that’s not always the case, according to Morales.

“The fact is that for gun purchases, every state is different. Some states require a background check, and are required to call in to check their criminal record, but they’ll get put on hold or can’t get through and just hang up,” he said. “Some states, like Georgia, are the easiest to buy a gun in. You can walk into a flea market and purchase a gun, no problem.”

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US federal law clearly states that all licensed firearm dealers must perform background checks on those seeking to purchase a gun. However, unlicensed firearms dealers, such as those at gun shows, are not required to perform background checks. Approximately 22% of all firearm sales take place between unlicensed sellers who do not perform background checks. This conundrum is often referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

Eleven states (and one district) have closed the loophole by requiring background checks at the point of sale for firearms:

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Eight states require not only a background check, but also a permit for private purchasers:

It’s worth noting that none of these states specifically ban gun ownership by medical marijuana patients or adult cannabis consumers. However, if a gun owner ends up facing a large-scale cannabis cultivation charge or a possession with intent to sell charge, they may face additional aggravating factors for the connection of a firearm, in addition to a perjury charge.

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The ‘Full Disclosure’ Catch-22

After the Ninth Circuit Court ruling, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives added a warning to the Firearms Transaction Record, or Form 4473, amending the question regarding whether or not the prospective firearm owner uses or is addicted to marijuana:

“Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”

“Just say the four magic words: ‘I want my attorney.’”

Christopher Morales

Saying “yes” means that even otherwise law-abiding medical marijuana patients or adults using cannabis in a legal state are not considered eligible to own a gun under federal law. Saying “no” is considered perjury and is punishable as a felony under federal laws. However, this law only applies if the gun sellers do their due diligence in completing the background check process to legally own a gun, and the regulations on gun purchases are lax and rarely enforced.

If you’re trying to cooperate with law enforcement, should you disclose that you’re carrying a firearm if you’re a lawful medical marijuana patient? We asked Morales outright whether people should disclose if they’re carrying a legally registered weapon or if they have cannabis in the car for medical purposes.

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“I recommend never confessing to police if you have drugs or guns in your vehicle,” he insisted. “You are under no obligation to disclose that information.”

Instead, he made a different recommendation. “Just say the four magic words: ‘I want my attorney.’”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

How Are Canadian Patients Using Medical Cannabis?

This article is sponsored by Tilray, one of the largest and most sophisticated producers of medical cannabis in the world. Tilray is dedicated to providing safe, consistent, and reliable products to patients and furthering clinical and observational research examining the therapeutic potential of cannabis.


It seems like every day brings a new study about the ways medical cannabis can be used in healthcare. But how are patients already accessing medical cannabis, and in what form? And more importantly, how is it impacting their quality of life? A new study led by Philippe Lucas, Vice-President of Patient Research & Access for Tilray, and Leafly’s own Nick Jikomes, PhD, provides some of the first answers to these questions.

Tilray’s Philippe Lucas presents data from the company’s latest patient research. (Courtesy of Tilray)

The Tilray Patient Survey 2017 saw the company partner with academics and researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, McMaster University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria on the largest survey of Canadian medical cannabis patients ever conducted, tracking the responses of 2,032 patients across Canada.

Patient Preferences

Medical marijuana patients who responded to the survey were a median of 40 years old, and men outnumbered women almost two to one. About one in five respondents (22%) had private insurance, but just 3% got financial assistance to help defray the cost of their medical cannabis prescription.

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Respondents were more or less evenly split between their preferences for indica (25%), sativa (22%), and hybrid strains (21%)—just ahead of users who had no preference at 17.5%. High-CBD strains were favored by just 14.5% of respondents, but CBD-heavy varieties made a strong showing among respondents who used extracts and concentrates—50% looked for a high-CBD strain in those products.

Medical Cannabis Instead Of…

Nearly 70% of users reported that they substituted medical cannabis for a previously prescribed medication. The leading substance that medical cannabis replaced? Opioids (36%), with antidepressants (21%) and other pain medications following close behind.

“In 610 mentions of opioid medication, 59% of patients stopped using these painkillers completely, and another 18% cut their consumption to a quarter or less,” said Lucas, the lead author on the study. “This suggests that cannabis may already be playing a harm-reduction role in the current opioid crisis.”

Tilray cannabis oil capsules. (Courtesy of Tilray)

These findings are consistent with US-based research by Bachhuber et al. (2014) showing a nearly 25% reduction in opioid overdose deaths in medical cannabis states compared to neighboring states that did not allow the medical use of cannabis.

It wasn’t just prescription drugs that cannabis helped patients phase out, though. Nearly a third of participants (31%) reported that using medical cannabis had helped them cut their tobacco use, and half of those respondents had quit using tobacco altogether. In addition, 44% of those surveyed reported that medical cannabis helped them consume less alcohol, and 26% said that cannabis products served as a substitute for illicit drugs.

The study also found that the two main conditions that drive patients to seek medical cannabis were chronic pain (38%) and mental health issues (40%), including anxiety and insomnia.

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Although cannabis use for medical purposes is gaining acceptance as patients choose it for a variety of health challenges, it doesn’t fit the traditional “take two and call me in the morning” format of other prescriptions. With so many ways to work medical cannabis into a healthcare plan, researchers asked participants how they prefer to get their daily dose.

Flower Power

Despite the variety of delivery methods now available for medical cannabis, respondents tended to stick with a classic: flower was far and away the most popular choice for patients. Most patients (74%) used cannabis on a daily basis, and average consumption was about a gram and a half every day, translating to just over 19 ounces a year. A lot of that was consumed as joints, the most popular method of smoking medical cannabis. 

A package of medicinal flower. (Courtesy of Tilray)

But while traditional flower was the most popular form of cannabis among Canadian patients, new ways of ingesting it are growing in popularity. Almost half (47%) of participants reported that their main cannabis delivery method was non-smoking. Vaporizers, including gear like e-nails and vape pens, were the favored method for 31% of respondents.

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Bringing up the rear, juicing was the least popular method of consuming cannabis, with just 0.2% of survey takers calling it their primary method of use. Topicals like oils and salves just edged it out as the most popular forms of cannabis consumption among 0.3% of patients.

Cannabis may already be playing a harm-reduction role in the current opioid crisis.

Philippe Lucas, Vice-President of Patient Research & Access, Tilray

Takeaways

The data patients shared with researchers demonstrates that the long-held promise medical cannabis holds for treating a broad array of conditions is starting to be realized. In particular, the initial findings of this study highlight the potential of medical cannabis to help address North America’s opioid crisis by providing a safer substitute in the treatment of chronic pain. Now, authors of the study are drafting the data into a number of academic publications that will help to better understand and contextualize the results.

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“I’ve had the privilege of working with medical cannabis patients for over 20 years, and it’s an honor to be able to share their experiences through studies like the Tilray Patient Survey 2017,” Lucas said.

Disclaimer: Tilray and Leafly are both subsidiaries of Privateer Holdings, Inc.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana Takes Aim at Quebec

Medical cannabis advocates are gearing up for the Quebec government’s public consultations on legal marijuana. Last weekend in Montreal, Daphnée Elisma, Québec representative of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and pictured below, led a discussion group for medical-cannabis patients of Montreal’s Santé Cannabis clinic. Her goal was to help them prepare, formulate, and articulate their comments during the government’s consultation process (which runs in different cities until mid-September), whether they plan to attend in person, or whether they will write letters if they are to unwell to be there physically.

Photo credit: Sasha Brunelle

“I explained to them how to present themselves on the different issues in the rights of patients who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” she told Leafly, noting that principal among her concerns are issues relating to distribution and taxation. “We’ve been asking the government to think about patients when they plan the legislation, and to have a different tax system than the recreational market for the medical users. Right now we’re being taxed, and it’s unfair for users to have to pay taxes on cannabis for medical purposes. When you go to the pharmacy and buy something prescribed by a doctor, you don’t pay taxes on that. Patients who use cannabis for medical purposes still have to pay that tax, and it’s a barrier to access. We have people on welfare using medical cannabis, and they have to choose either to eat or to buy their medicine. We’d like the government to fix that issue.”

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During the session, she noted, one of the issues that patients raised several times was the need for improved research into medical cannabis.

“Patients with chronic conditions face unfair barriers when it comes to making informed decisions on the uses of cannabis for medical purposes due to the lack of clinical medical research,” Elisma said. “We need more funding to support the onerous licensing requirements that researchers are facing at the moment. By taxing the recreational market, the Quebec government would be able to use the tax revenue from cannabis as a source of funding for education and research.”

Quebec has one of the highest barriers to medical cannabis in Canada.

She also called on the government to pour funds into cannabis education—both for medical school students, and for the public, stressing the need to lessen stigma against medical cannabis users.

At the moment, Quebec has one of the highest barriers to medical cannabis in Canada. The guidelines for prescribing cannabis from the Collège des médecins du Québec (Quebec College of Physicians) note that “[t]he use of cannabis for medical purposes is not a recognized treatment” and “an unrecognized treatment can only be used within a research framework.” Before a physician can prescribe medical cannabis, they must first prescribe other forms of cannabinoids—which some find harsh and disorienting. If the patient wishes to receive medical cannabis after that, they must also receive a “complete medical assessment.” Few of these obstacles exist for patients being prescribed opioid painkillers.

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“There is not enough scientific evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of cannabis dried for medical purposes,” the Collège des médecins du Québec’s Press Relation Leslie Labranche told Leafly. “The current state of knowledge as well as the rare studies and evidence on the subject leave physicians perplexed. That’s why physicians in Québec may prescribe cannabis within [the] cannabis framework.”

In January, the Montreal Gazette reported that some of the city’s clinics were turning to doctors located outside of Quebec, for whom the process of prescribing cannabis is significantly less onerous. According to the Collège des médecins du Québec, it is against the law for a doctor outside of Quebec to prescribe cannabis to a patient in Quebec.

“We have issues with the Collège des médecins,” said Elisma. “They don’t consider cannabis an approved drug, and they’ve been saying for years that cannabis is not backed by any research. That’s not true. We know there’s a lot of research that’s been done in the past, so we’re asking the government to do more research in order to get a more correct picture of the medical value of cannabis. We’ve seen research showing improvement for children with epilepsy treated with CBD. The population needs to know this—how things like CBD affect the body.”

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Labranche reported that the Collège des médecins du Québec is partially supporting the project “The Quebec Cannabis Register: A Research Database on the Use of Dried Cannabis for Medical Purpose,” led by Dr. Mark A. Ware, McGill University Health Centre and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids.

While the Collège des médecins remains conservative in its approaches, Elisma is optimistic about the provincial consultations. In June, she joined doctors, researchers, scientists, and government functionaries in the two-day Forum of Experts on Regulation of Cannabis in Québec. Both an advocate and a patient, Elisma relies on three grams of vaporized cannabis per day to help her cope with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which she developed following having a cancerous tumour removed from her breast. As such, she grounds her activism in personal experience.

“The fact that they’re having public consultations, this to me is a good sign,” she said. “It shows the government wants to start a conversation between experts and patients. This is why an organization like Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana is working so hard to move this discussion forward. This happens slowly, but I have a feeling we’re going to get somewhere. People are ready to express their feelings about the value of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and the obstacles they’ve faced over the years to accessing it.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Tilray Secures Portugal License, Plans EU Expansion

Tilray, one of Canada’s largest licensed producers, has secured a license to produce medical cannabis in Portugal. Earlier this morning, the company announced that Government of Portugal has issued the Nanaimo, BC-based LP a license to import cannabis genetics and cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.

The company also said it would invest up to €20 million (C$29.2 million) in a European Union campus based in the BIOCANT Research Park in Cantanhede, Portugal, an agricultural and biosciences hub between Porto and Lisbon. The first phase of the project, expected to be completed by the spring of 2018, includes an indoor laboratory and genetics bank, outdoor cultivation sites, a 10,000-square-meter greenhouse, and a 1,500-square-meter processing facility.

Tilray is owned by Privateer Holdings, the Seattle-based private equity firm that also owns Leafly.

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“For the past two years we’ve been working hard to find the right location for cultivation, processing, and research facilities to serve rapidly growing demand for high-quality medical cannabis products in Europe,” Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy said in a statement released by the company. “Portugal has the ideal climate to cultivate cannabis, a highly-skilled health care workforce, and a vibrant research community. It’s more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective to supply European patients from Portugal than from northern climates.”

The Portuguese license and facility continues the Canadian company’s global expansion, which includes subsidiaries in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

House Committee Rejects Medical Marijuana Protections

In a significant blow to medical marijuana advocates, patients, and cannabis companies around the nation, the House Rules Committee has rejected protections for MMJ patients and banks that want to serve state-legal cannabis businesses.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment (a spending bill amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from using its budget to arrest or prosecute people acting in accordance with state medical marijuana laws), and a proposal to protect banks serving legal cannabis businesses were both rejected by the committee in a Wednesday session that stretched into the night. The actions mean the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, a version of which has protected MMJ patients since 2014, will not proceed as part of the spending package to a vote by the full House. The current version of the amendment is scheduled to expire at the end of September.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the California Republican who has long championed the rights of medical marijuana patients, spent much of the past two days lobbying his fellow Republicans to support the measure. As Molly Hooper reported in The Hill earlier today:

At a Wednesday morning closed-door briefing of House Republicans, California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) implored his GOP colleagues to press House leaders to allow a vote on his amendment. Fellow Californian Rep. Duncan Hunter told The Hill that after Rohrabacher “talked about it this morning in conference,” GOP leaders said “it splits the conference too much so we’re not going to have a vote on it.”

Rohrabacher’s Washington Post op-ed. headlined “My fellow conservatives should protect medical marijuana from the government,” ran in the paper’s Tuesday edition. The conservative lawmaker wrote about the schism between some in his party over the issue: 

Unfortunately, my longtime friend Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has urged Congress to drop the amendment, now co-sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). This, despite President Trump’s belief, made clear in his campaign and as president, that states alone should decide medical marijuana policies.

Rohrabacher followed up with an impassioned pitch to his colleagues on the House floor on Tuesday night. Without the amendment, he said, “we’re changing the status quo in a way that undermines the rights of the states and the people” to set their own cannabis policies.

There’s Still Hope

Wednesday’s vote was a setback, but it doesn’t mean the measure is dead. A version of the same MMJ protections is included in the Senate appropriations bill that was approved in July. That means the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer language might survive in the final version of the bill hammered out in a joint House-Senate reconciliation committee.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the amendment’s cosponsor, noted in a tweet that a vast majority of Americans and members of Congress supported the rights of medical marijuana patients. The House Republican leadership, though, did not want the amendment to proceed to a full House vote.

What has a less chance of survival, though, are the proposals put forth by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) and others that would have prohibited funds from being used to penalize a financial institution for serving a legitimate marijuana business that abides by state law. 

Wednesday’s actions by the House Rules Committee left many in the legalization movement momentarily deflated, but ready to fight for the measure in reconciliation with the Senate. “Unless Congress chooses the Senate budget version, millions of seriously ill patients and the legitimate businesses that provide them with safe access to their medicine will be at risk of prosecution,” said Don Murphy, director of conservative outreach for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This vote is a slap in the face of patients, their families, their elected representatives, and the 10th Amendment.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.