Medical associations remain skeptical about cannabis' worthiness as medicine, and Canada's Liberals focus on mostly negative reasons for legalizing the plant, such as protecting youths and eradicating the black market.
Despite a lack of overt institutional support, there are solid reasons to expect that, after Canada's legalization Oct. 17, 2018, it may be medical use that will grow most in popularity.
Here are 10 reasons why legalization could boost the use of medical cannabis in Canada:
1. Cannabis has widespread and long-standing precedent as medicine, while its status as an illegal drug has been comparatively brief. Pharmacopoeia listing cannabis have been found throughout the ancient world, and cannabis-based medicines were freely available in England and North America until the early 20th century.
2. Demographics are in marijuana's favor. Canada's elderly population is increasing. Estimated to reach 25 percent of the population by 2036, seniors with attendant age-related illnesses may find cannabis helpful to alleviate ailments and with fewer side effects than anti-inflammatories in common use.
3. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a growing population that garners much-deserved sympathy, have come to embrace cannabis. They will continue to need guidance in choosing suitable strains.
4. Client registrations for legal medical cannabis in Canada have grown from 23,000 in 2015, to almost 300,000 in 2017. There are many more informal consumers. Critics may suspect that these figures hide what is essentially recreational use, but dedicated practitioners in Canada see it otherwise.
5. Contrary to rhetoric that portrays physicians and “Big Pharma” as a self-serving monolith, doctors hate prescribing drugs with dangerous side effects and feel rewarded when they see their patients able to abandon them in favor of cannabis.
7. Medical results remain solid enough to convince a growing number of physicians in Canada to persist in learning about cannabis, and in guiding patients in its use.
8. These patients will not dissolve into a grand solution of recreational use. Anyone with a medical condition will continue to need a doctor's care.
9. Everyone who has come to understand cannabis and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is stepping up medical research.
10. Finally, beyond those seeking recreation is an untapped customer base that suffers from garden-variety stress, inflammation, and insomnia. As legal cannabis begins to wear away decades of stigma, it should not surprise us if many turn to cannabinoids, seeking simply to feel better. As new formulas fill this need, they could prove to be legalization's largest and most significant effect.