The Arthritis Society Grants Funds For Medical Marijuana Research

By Reina Ilagan

Dec 23, 2016 07:44 PM EST

The Arthritis Society announced that it will broaden efforts in the conduct or researches regarding marijuana's ability to help treat fibromyalgia, a disease affecting the central nervous system. The disease inflicts chronic pain on some 520,000 Canadians.

It has recently revealed the winner of its latest research grant for the study of medical cannabis and arthritis. The trial examining the use of oral cannabinoids for fibromyalgia will be headed by McGill University's Dr. Mark Ware, a widely reputed leader in pain research.

The study, which was selected from among several proposals submitted by Canadian researchers, will receive a three-year grant. The proposals were subjected to extensive peer review process by an impartial volunteer panel of cross-disciplinary medical and scientific experts as well as arthritis health consumers.

The Arthritis Society has also earlier funded a medical cannabis research project. Dr. Jason McDougall was awarded a similar three-year grant in 2015 to study the impact of medical cannabis on arthritis pain and disease management.

"These investments are about leading by example," said Janet Yale, the Arthritis Society President and CEO.

"Patients and physicians both need to be able to make informed decisions about whether cannabis has a place in the individual's treatment plan. With these commitments, The Arthritis Society is doing its part to help fill some of the critical knowledge gaps around medical cannabis, but we can't do it alone. There's no reason for the government to wait until new legislation is in place to start addressing the issue. That's why we continue to call on the federal government to make a firm commitment in the 2017 budget to fund $25 million in medical cannabis research over the next five years," she stated.

The Arthritis Society, along other patient advocacy groups, calls for the new regulatory regime to prioritize to address patient concerns including the access, affordability and the vital need for more research.

Although the benefits of cannabis has not yet been confirmed in large-scale clinical trials, many fibromyalgia patients have reported its positive effects on pain and symptom management. Two thirds of people who use cannabis for medical purposes said that it helps them cope with the pain, fatigue and other symptoms of arthritis.

Through the study funded by the society, patients and health professionals will be educated about the possible risks and benefits of oral cannabis in fibromyalgia therapy.

"In the rush to legalize cannabis for recreational use, we need to be careful that the needs of people who rely on cannabis for medical purposes aren't forgotten. We will be watching closely to ensure that the new regulations put patients' needs first," said Yale.

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