“The medical profession, as a whole, has really struggled with the whole concept of medical cannabis. There’s definitely some physicians who feel comfortable in that area but most don’t.” Dr. Jeff Blackmer, vice-president of medical professionalism for the Canadian Medical Association

You might be wondering how the rise of cannabis has affected pharmaceutical companies in recent years. Most health professionals are not enthusiastic about the rise of cannabis being used to treat various health conditions. Doctors may get paid to write a certain amount of prescriptions per year, but prescriptive drugs are merely a band-aid, providing temporary relief for pain.

What does this mean for the rise of cannabis and the recent legalization in Canada? It means people are starting to turn to alternative methods of healing and well-being. The veil is thinning as perspectives start to shift, and it’s becoming evident that in many ways companies are corporations don’t always have people’s best interest in mind.

Those who are seeking wellness are beginning to utilize cannabis as a substitute for their former pharmaceuticals, and this is on an upward trend with no signs of slowing down. Medical cannabis is now frequently being used to treat pain, anxiety and depression along with products containing CBD oil.

Many doctors feel that there is a lack of concrete evidence and studies that support the health benefits of medical marijuana, so the cost of it generally isn’t covered in Canadian healthcare plans. Sun Life’s cautious approach reflects concern across Canada’s health insurance industry over the potentially high costs of covering medical marijuana – in many cases higher than established pharmaceuticals.

They claim that there isn’t enough concrete evidence, but so many people have already reported massive results in a wide range of issues that they have faced. That is not to say that this is for everyone, but it does beg the question: why are they not looking into it more extensively, and is there a deeper reason behind it?

“Right now, the type of evidence, the quality of evidence that we typically look for before approving drugs or before funding drugs, isn’t there for cannabis,” he said. “That’s not necessarily to say that it won’t be there in the future, and certainly that’s something that a lot of physicians are watching carefully.” says Blackmer.

Health professionals are quick to talk about the potential consequences and wanting people to make informed decisions before they embark on the alternative healing route and explore the idea of using medical marijuana. There is a lack of understanding of how marijuana reacts when mixed with different medications and what the correct dosages would be when treating particular ailments.

With Alberta’s legal age being 18 it has raised many concerns considering the extensive research that has been done regarding marijuana’s effects on underdeveloped brains which can prove to be both detrimental and irreversible.

A survey was conducted online in a questionnaire format to determine whether or not people were intentionally replacing their pharmaceutical drugs in exchange for the use of cannabis. The patient-reported outcomes supported prior research that individuals were using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs with narcotics/opioids being among the most frequently substituted.

Not all of the participants specified whether or not the marijuana they were smoking was necessarily recreational or medical. 2,774 individuals were reported having used cannabis at least once in the previous 90 days, and the data that was gathered suggested that the use of prescription drugs is decreasing in states where medical cannabis is legal. The participants of the survey were recruited through social media and cannabis dispensaries in Washington State.

The number of medical authorizations has gone down in jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, so expect to see the same transpiring here as well.

Some jurisdictions maintain a master list of qualifying conditions that patients must meet to get a legal marijuana prescription. In Canada, however, the process is much more individualized: If you’re interested in trying prescription cannabis and your doctor agrees to prescribe it, you qualify.

Medical marijuana is being used to treat conditions such as (but not limited to) chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, cancer and insomnia. Cannabis has also been found to reduce epileptic spasms and ease painful eye pressure caused by glaucoma and preliminary research has shown that cannabinoids hinder cancer cell growth.

Perhaps as time transpires medical professionals will warm up to the idea of prescribing medical marijuana once they are satisfied with their findings and feel that they have substantiated a fair amount of evidence in favor of cannabis’s medicinal and holistic affects. Only time will tell.