Treating arthritis with medical marijuana

For ten years, it's been possible to get a prescription for pot. Canada was the first country to create a system for doling out marijuana as medicine for people with certain serious illnesses. And in the past few years, a curious thing has happened. The number of pot prescriptions written to help people with arthritis has skyrocketed. And it's probably not because there's suddenly a lot more people with arthritis.

Part Three of The Current

Treating arthritis with medical marijuana

In 2001, Canada became the first country to adopt a formal system to regulate the medicinal use of marijuana. The Marijuana Medical Access Regulations allows patients with serious illnesses to apply for permission to possess and, in some cases, grow marijuana. But first, you need a prescription.

The Ottawa Citizen newspaper counted the number of prescriptions in the past few years. Health Canada data showed that between 2008 and 2010 there was a 24-hundred percent increase in the number of prescriptions written for treatment of arthritis. Arthritis is the top medical reason for applications for medical marijuana, and this year accounts for 40-percent of applications.

The report also also shows there is wide variation across Canada in how the medical community embraces marijuana as a treatment. Harold Anson was recently prescribed medical marijuana for his arthritis. Freelance journalist, Aziza Sindhu, met up with him at the Hamilton Medical Marijuana Centre.

He mentioned Scott... Well, Scott Gilbert is a licensed medical marijuana cultivator and the owner of the centre. He was in Hamilton this morning.

Treating arthritis with medical marijuana

Health Canada oversees the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, and the paperwork that doctors submit in order for prescriptions to be fulfilled.

Stéphane Lessard is Health Canada's Director of the Bureau of Medical Cannibis. He joined us from Ottawa.

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