Medical pot study to begin at local clinic

More data needed on effects of medical marijuana, company says.

A new study launching in November in three Canadian clinics, including one in Abbotsford, aims to address a shortfall in data and knowledge about the actual effects of medical marijuana on the patients who use it.

Bedrocan Canada and Tweed Inc., two companies that produce and distribute medical marijuana, are sponsoring the study into two of their own strains, which can be prescribed by doctors to manage symptoms of a variety of ailments and diseases.

The survey aims to enroll some 6,000 patients and track their progress, and medical marijuana’s effects on their lives, over the course of a year. The company is billing the study as “one of the world’s largest studies on the therapeutic effects of medical cannabis.” It will be launched at three clinics, including Greenleaf Medical Clinic in Abbotsford.

A court ruling allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for patients. At the same time, Health Canada does not consider it an approved medication.

Greenleaf clinic director Fonda Betts said the hope is that the study will give those prescribing doctors more knowledge about how much, and what kind, of marijuana to prescribe.

Greenleaf connects patients with doctors and provides education services, but does not distribute marijuana.

More data, Betts said, “would give the physician more of a prescribing tool in terms of grams per day … as well as the best way to use their cannabis.”

The study will be unblinded, meaning the effects of the marijuana won’t be tested against a placebo. Patients will be compensated with small product discounts, while doctors will be paid for their time.

Battley said the number of doctors authorized to prescribe marijuana increased 61 per cent in the first six months of 2015.

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