Scientific Studies and Research
The number of scientific studies on the potential medical benefits of cannabis is rapidly increasing. AUDACIOUS’s CSO, Dr. Jason Dyck has been engaged in a number of studies through his position at the University of Alberta Dr. Dyck’s University studies are hugely important considering the rapidly growing number of medical cannabis patients, and the shortage of clinical studies. Please find below a number of interesting studies conducted by Dr. Dyck from the University of Alberta.
Gaps in evidence for the use of medically authorized cannabis: Ontario and Alberta, Canada
Harm Reduct J. 2021 Jun 8;18(1):61. doi: 10.1186/s12954-021-00509-0.
Background: With legal access to medical cannabis in Canada since 2001, there is a need to fully characterize its use at both the individual and population levels. We draw on data from Canada’s largest cohort study of medical cannabis to identify the primary reasons for medical cannabis authorization in Canada from 2014 to 2019 in two major provinces: Alberta (AB) and Ontario (ON), and review the extent that evidence supports each indication.
Methods: Self-reported baseline assessments were collected from adult patients in ON (n = 61,835) and AB (n = 3410) who were authorized medical cannabis. At baseline, sociodemographic, primary medical information, and validated clinical questionnaires were completed by patients as part of an individual assessment. Patients’ reasons for seeking medical cannabis were compared to published reviews and guidelines to assess the level of evidence supporting medical cannabis use for each condition.
Results: Medical cannabis use in both AB and ON was similar in both demographic and reason for authorization. The most common reasons for medical cannabis authorization were: (1) pain (AB = 77%, ON = 76%) primarily due to chronic musculoskeletal, arthritic, and neuropathic pain, (2) mental health concerns (AB = 32.9%, ON = 38.7%) due to anxiety and depression, and (3) sleep problems (AB = 28%, ON = 25%). More than 50 other conditions were identified as reasons for obtaining authorization.
Conclusion: In both AB and ON, the majority of reasons for medical cannabis authorization are not substantiated by clinical evidence to fully support its efficacy for long-term use. Ongoing epidemiological studies on medical cannabis on these treatments are warranted to fully outline its treatment benefits or risks.
Keywords: Anxiety; Cancer; Chronic pain; Cohort study; Depression; Epidemiology; Medical cannabis; Nausea; Spasticity.
Conflict of interest statement
JRBD is a former board member of Aurora Cannabis Inc., which is a for-profit, company licensed for the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis. In the past, JGH has worked as a paid advisor and speaker for Canadian Cannabis Clinics (he no longer has ties with the cannabis clinics). JRBD has a financial interest in Aurora Cannabis Inc. DTE holds a Mitacs Grant with Aurora as a partner. Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that works with universities, private companies, and both federal and provincial governments, to build partnerships and administer research that supports industrial and social innovation in Canada. DTE does not have any past or present financial interest in the companies involved. CL, JMR, EH, and SK have no conflicts of interest to declare. Moreover, the research funders and companies listed were not involved in any aspect of the design or write-up of the study and all analyses were performed independent from the funders and companies.
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Opioid use in medical cannabis authorization adult patients from 2013 to 2018: Alberta, Canada
BMC Public Health. 2021 May 1;21(1):843. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10867-w.
Background: The opioid overdose epidemic in Canada and the United States has become a public health crisis – with exponential increases in opioid-related morbidity and mortality. Recently, there has been an increasing body of evidence focusing on the opioid-sparing effects of medical cannabis use (reduction of opioid use and reliance), and medical cannabis as a potential alternative treatment for chronic pain. The objective of this study is to assess the effect of medical cannabis authorization on opioid use (oral morphine equivalent; OME) between 2013 and 2018 in Alberta, Canada.
Methods: All adult patients defined as chronic opioid users who were authorized medical cannabis by their health care provider in Alberta, Canada from 2013 to 2018 were propensity score matched to non-authorized chronic opioid using controls. A total of 5373 medical cannabis patients were matched to controls, who were all chronic opioid users. The change in the weekly average OME of opioid drugs for medical cannabis patients relative to controls was measured. Interrupted time series (ITS) analyses was used to assess the trend change in OME during the 26 weeks (6 months) before and 52 weeks (1 year) after the authorization of medical cannabis among adult chronic opioid users.
Results: Average age was 52 years and 54% were female. Patients on low dose opioids (< 50 OME) had an increase in their weekly OME per week (absolute increase of 112.1 OME, 95% CI: 104.1 to 120.3); whereas higher dose users (OME > 100), showed a significant decrease over 6 months (- 435.5, 95% CI: – 596.8 to – 274.2) compared to controls.
Conclusions: This short-term study found that medical cannabis authorization showed intermediate effects on opioid use, which was dependent on initial opioid use. Greater observations of changes in OME appear to be in those patients who were on a high dosage of opioids (OME > 100); however, continued surveillance of patients utilizing both opioids and medical cannabis is warranted by clinicians to understand the long-term potential benefits and any harms of ongoing use.
Keywords: Chronic pain; Cohort study; Epidemiology; Medical cannabis; Opioid; Opioid morphine equivalence.
Conflict of interest statement
JRBD was a former member of the board of directors for Aurora Cannabis Inc., which is a for-profit, company licensed for the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis. In the past, JGH has worked as a paid advisor and speaker for Canadian Cannabis Clinics- however, currently has no clinical or financial ties. JRBD currently has financial interest in Aurora Cannabis Inc. DTE and JRBD held a Mitacs Grant with Aurora as a partner. Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that works with universities, private companies, and both federal and provincial governments, to build partnerships and administer research funding that supports industrial and social innovation in Canada. DTE does not have any past or present financial interest in the companies involved. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Moreover, the research funders and companies listed were not involved in any aspect of the design or write-up of the study and all analysis was performed independent from the funders and companies.
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t
- Alberta / epidemiology
- Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
- Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
- Middle Aged
- Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
- Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
- United States
- Analgesics, Opioid
- Medical Marijuana
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Cohort study of medical cannabis authorization and motor vehicle crash-related healthcare visits in 2014-2017 in Ontario, Canada
Inj Epidemiol. 2021 Apr 28;8(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s40621-021-00321-1.
Background: With increasing numbers of countries/jurisdictions legalizing cannabis, cannabis impaired driving has become a serious public health concern. Despite substantive research linking cannabis use with higher rates of motor vehicle crashes (MVC), there is an absence of conclusive evidence linking MVC risk with medical cannabis use. In fact, there is no clear understanding of the impact of medical cannabis use on short- and long-term motor vehicle-related healthcare visits. This study assesses the impact of medical cannabis authorization on motor vehicle-related health utilization visits (hospitalizations, ambulatory care, emergency department visits, etc) between 2014 and 2017 in Ontario, Canada.
Methods: A matched cohort study was conducted on patients authorized to use medical cannabis and controls who did not receive authorization for medical cannabis – in Ontario, Canada. Overall, 29,153 adult patients were identified and subsequently linked to the administrative databases of the Ontario Ministry of Health, providing up to at least 6 months of longitudinal follow-up data following the initial medical cannabis consultation. Interrupted time series analyses was conducted to evaluate the change in rates of healthcare utilization as a result of MVC 6 months before and 6 months after medical cannabis authorization.
Results: Over the 6-month follow-up period, MVC-related visits in medical cannabis patients were 0.50 visits/10000 patients (p = 0.61) and – 0.31 visits/10000 patients (p = 0.64) for MVC-related visits in controls. Overall, authorization for medical cannabis was associated with an immediate decrease in MVC-related visits of – 2.42 visits/10000 patients (p = 0.014) followed by a statistically significant increased rate of MVC-related visits (+ 0.89 events/10,000 in those authorized medical cannabis) relative to controls in the period following their authorization(p = 0.0019). Overall, after accounting for both the immediate and trend effects, authorization for medical cannabis was associated with an increase of 2.92 events/10,000 (95%CI 0.64 to 5.19) over the entire follow-up period. This effect was largely driven by MVC-related emergency department visits (+ 0.80 events/10,000, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Overall, there was an association between medical cannabis authorization and healthcare utilization, at the population level, in Ontario, Canada. These findings have public health importance and patients and clinicians should be fully educated on the potential risks. Continued follow-up of medically authorized cannabis patients is warranted to fully comprehend long-term impact on motor vehicle crash risk.