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Cannabis as Medicine? Overview

It is utterly mind-blowing that people have no idea that Cannabis has been part of the medical prescription landscape for over 20 years. That’s right T. G. A (Therapeutic Goods Administration) trialled and approved cannabis based medicines have been available as an option to alleviate, if only in small ways, some of the symptoms of a couple of diseases or help with recovery from treatment. However, the claims of this plant being a ‘miracle cure’ for just about everything, have existed for of 100 years… yet in no credible and advanced research has any of the properties of the Cannabis plant ‘cured’ anything, ever!

There is no argument that some components of this incredibly complex plant can have some therapeutic benefit, be it ever so small, but deriving such from the plant with out co-opting some of the more detrimental components has proven incredibly difficult. On top of that, the evidence emerging from latest science, sees that some of these therapies, do more harm than good, with the temporary alleviating of a symptom on one hand, and incurring along term genetic harm on the other!

Again if facts and evidence matter to your best-practice health care, then this is the space for you. Make informed decisions based on science, and not quackery!

Those were the words of Minister of Health Ginette Taylor in November 2017, spoken as the government of Canada began to put together Bill 45, known as The Cannabis Act. Over a year has passed since the enactment of Bill 45 and questions still remain regarding the safety of legal cannabis to our pregnant population, both in the short- and long-term. Even preceding the legalization of cannabis in Canada, a 2017 survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) indicated that from 1996–2017, adults of reproductive age (i.e., 18–29 years) in Ontario reported the biggest increase in cannabis use, from 18.3% to 39.1%.3 Moreover, in 2017, the proportion of Ontarians reporting cannabis use in a span of just 1 year rose from 15.7% to 19.4%, representing a total of 2 million people.  These trends in usage are of great concern, especially when considering that over the last decade, cannabis use has progressively increased in pregnant women, along with the perception that it poses no risk in perinatal life. Aside from the brain, activation of cannabinoid receptors by Δ9-THC or CBD in peripheral tissues (e.g., pancreas, heart, adipose, and liver) during pregnancy could also directly influence the development of those organs, and consequentially, their function in postnatal life. In addition, Δ9-THC in pregnancy may have indirect effects on long-term non-communicable diseases given that it impedes fetal growth, which is a strong predictor of metabolic disease risk in human offspring.

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SAMHSA is committed to improving prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for mental and substance use disorders.