Science to support marijuana as a treatment option growing on eve of 7th Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup
Organizer Jeff Lundstrom says reasonable access still a primary concern
Science is slowly giving Saskatchewan doctors a medical basis to prescribe marijuana as a treatment option.
Three years ago, both the Saskatchewan Medical Association and the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons publicly expressed reservations over the lack of data to support prescribing marijuana.
Now, that's changed.
The college's website now features a link to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the United States.
In January, it published a report on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids. It featured a breakdown of conditions where there is conclusive or substantial evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment. They include patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea or multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms.
"Well, there are certainly better resources," said Bryan Salte with the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons.
"[The American report] talks about the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids that is probably, as I would understand it, the most definitive statement to date for what health conditions marijuana is likely to be useful and for what conditions it's likely not, and it summarizes what the evidence is at the present."
Still the wild west
The science is evolving and Saskatchewan doctors are prescribing marijuana. Salte said based on Health Canada stats, there are 6,400 patients in the province who are prescribed marijuana, or who are licensed to grow it.
But there are still startling gaps in what's known.
For instance, no one knows how many Saskatchewan doctors are prescribing marijuana. It's not tracked by Health Canada, the Saskatchewan Medical Association or the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
And while Health Canada licenses producers to supply medical marijuana to patients, there remains a vibrant black market industry for both medical and recreational marijuana products.
Anyone who wants marijuana edibles, oils, candies or dried leaves need only go online to get it delivered to their door.
A seven-year odyssey
Against this backdrop, the people and companies that produce medical pot products will meet with the people licensed to use it medically this weekend at a downtown club in Saskatoon.
It's the seventh year that Jeffrey Lundstrom has organized the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup.
"Our focus is always to make sure that if you are alleviating your symptoms with cannabis that we can help middle you to someone that can help, like a doctor or a private grower or a dispensary," he said.
"Reasonable access is what we've been arguing for since the beginning."
He says the possible legalization for recreational use doesn't really affect what he's trying to accomplish at the trade show.
Lunstrom says it's not like someone who wants to find a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana can go to an official agency and get a list of physicians. It remains a word-of-mouth exercise.
There will be 17 companies with exhibits and more than 30 entrants in the competition for the Harvest Cup.