‘We don’t know what we don’t know’ on medicinal cannabis

Stuff co.nz 24 November 2019
Family First Comment: the Faculty of Pain Medicine (part of Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists) was also advising doctors not to prescribe medicinal cannabis, as research showed its effects to be “disappointing”. “At the moment the Faculty of Pain Medicine is saying the data is saying don’t do it,” 

A Marlborough GP says the prescription of medicinal cannabis could be premature.

The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is expected to be operational at the beginning of next year, enabling the commercial cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand.

Medical cannabis company Puro has secured two sites in Marlborough, with plans to start commercial cultivation when the “law allows”.

But Renwick Medical Centre GP Dr Buzz Burrell said the science has not caught up with the public debate on the prescription of medicinal cannabis.

“The pure science of cannabis is so in its infancy, it’s scary,” he said.

“When we’re talking about prescribing a product that has not undergone phase-one trialling, we don’t know what we don’t know.

“It’s almost fascinating that we are being asked by society to jump the gun and start prescribing something which hasn’t completed phase-one trials yet.

“We owe it to the public to be as cautious [with medicinal cannabis] as with anything else we prescribe.”

He said most drugs prescribed to the general public underwent four phases of trials before being released.

Burrell said the Faculty of Pain Medicine (part of Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists) was also advising doctors not to prescribe medicinal cannabis, as research showed its effects to be “disappointing”.

“At the moment the Faculty of Pain Medicine is saying the data is saying don’t do it,” he said.

“Chronic persistent pain to a certain degree affects 20 per cent of the adult population.”

“If we promise these one in five people that this will alleviate their pain and suffering, that’s absolutely cruel.”

He hoped the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, which would legislate a licensing regime and standards of quality, would reveal the products were safe to prescribe, particularly for chronic pain.

“It would be wonderful to have a safe product we can prescribe, but at the moment I can’t say that with confidence,” he said.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/117559141/we-dont-know-what-we-dont-know-on-medicinal-cannabis

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