The Current

Dr. Ware addresses research gap on medical marijuana with registry

Anecdotally, many in pain with serious illnesses will tell you marijuana helps them enormously. But doctors looking for facts on the benefits and potential safety concerns of medical marijuana face a research void. We hear from a doctor behind the launch of a registry that should offer research, and answers, over time.
Marijuana is weighed at The Dispensary, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Vancouver. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

On Tuesday, CBC's Jason Procter brought us the story about a budding new sector of the retail economy in Vancouver.

Over the past few months, the number of storefronts selling medical marijuana has skyrocketed, from just a handful to more than 90 and counting. It's a booming business, despite the fact that selling marijuana, even medical marijuana, from a storefront violates federal drug laws and the drug has not been approved by Health Canada.

The courts may have sided with Canadians who say that cannabis does help them with a range of illnesses. But there is limited research for doctors who are trying to determine whether and when to prescribe the drug. Now, an initiative in Quebec is trying to change that.

On Monday, The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids launched a registry for users of medical cannabis in Quebec. The goal is to help physicians better understand the benefits and potential safety concerns related to medical marijuana.

Dr. Mark Ware is a principal investigator on this project. He's also the director of clinical research at McGill University's Alan Edwards pain management unit and he was in Montreal. 

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This segment was produced by The Current's Josh Bloch.