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Position statement for medical cannabis and rheumatology patients

04 Jun 2019

The Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA) has recently issued a position statement asserting the need to provide empathetic and pragmatic guidance for patient care despite lack of evidence for use of medical cannabis in patients with rheumatic diseases.

“This position statement aims to facilitate the dialogue between patients and healthcare professionals in a mutually respectful manner to ensure harm reduction for patients and society,” the group said.

Clinical trials of medical cannabis in rheumatology patients are currently not existing. There is also insufficient evidence regarding the benefit of pharmaceutical cannabinoids in fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and back pain, but evidence of a high risk of harm exists.

Extrapolations from other conditions have shown potential benefits of using medical cannabis for symptom relief in some patients. Risks of psychomotor effects in the short term are expected, but long-term risks have not been established, making it an area of concern.

The development of a position statement for medical cannabis and the rheumatology patient was mandated by the CRA. The researchers assessed current literature about the effects of medical cannabis for patients with rheumatic diseases. The Therapeutics Committee of the CRA developed a pragmatic position statement to facilitate patient care, which was then approved by the CRA board.

“Pain is one reason some rheumatology patients may consider use of medical cannabis, a product increasingly perceived as a safe and neglected natural treatment option for many conditions,” according to the group.

“Legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada will promote access to cannabis. Physicians must therefore provide patients with the best evidence-based information regarding the medicinal effects and harm of cannabis,” they added.

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