Medicinal cannabis set for surge in popularity, says GP

Medicinal cannabis is about to boom in popularity, according to Dr Greg Scher.

The GP and spokesperson for online medical practice The Green Doc believes that Australians, particularly those over 55, are ready to incorporate alternative treatments in their regime to manage chronic pain.

The Green Doc surveyed more than 1000 Australians to find out their attitudes on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The survey found that only 27 per cent of respondents would not consider using medicinal cannabis for any condition.

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When it came to managing ongoing chronic pain, 45 per cent of Australian adults said they would look at the option of using cannabis as a treatment. Interestingly, when analysed by age group, it was the eldest category that was most willing to explore the option. Whereas only 32 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds would consider using medicinal cannabis, in the over-55 bracket, the figure was 52 per cent.

This is perhaps a reflection of the fact that the older group is more likely to have experienced ongoing chronic pain.

It should be noted that The Green Doc, the organisation that commissioned the survey, is an Australian online healthcare practice that specialises in alternative treatments. The practice was launched recently by Instant Scripts, an online prescription and telehealth consultation service.

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The survey results were released via an Instant Scripts media release, which did not disclose the source of its findings, which it says were “derived from a survey of an independent panel of 1000 Australian adults”. There is no suggestion of doubt about the veracity of that independence.

In a recent article published in the Australian Journal of General Practice and posted on the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners website, medicinal cannabis was recognised as “an increasingly popular, albeit controversial, alternative” for treating chronic pain.

The paper looked at various products that deliver tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD) and suggested that “current clinical trial evidence for THC and CBD efficacy in chronic pain is incomplete”.

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In its conclusion, the paper states that “medicinal cannabis is worthy of consideration in the management of chronic pain, and it is important that doctors are aware of the positives and negatives related to its use”.

The paper’s authors warn that supportive evidence for their efficacy is limited, and that harm minimisation should always be front of mind in prescribing decisions, particularly with patients who are driving regularly or using heavy machinery. It also cautioned that the long-term effects of medicinal cannabis and efficacy across different pain types are only partly understood.

There is little doubt that medicinal cannabis in its various forms is a viable option for those seeking relief from chronic pain, and that its popularity is likely to rise as indicated in The Green Doc survey. Importantly though, any decisions around its use should be made only after thorough consultation with an appropriate doctor.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Andrew Gigacz

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