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Response to Toronto Star - cannabis isn't medicine

Response from Trish Barbato, President and CEO of the Arthritis Society to Canabis is not ready to be called medicine, yet (Toronto Star, April 27) 

Cannabis isn’t medicine?  

Tell that to Judith.  

The retired Guelph resident lived most of her adult life in pain. For more than a dozen years, she relied on fentanyl to manage that pain, but more recently she turned to medical cannabis. 

And it’s helping. It’s managing her pain from arthritis as well as fentanyl did and she’s not dependent on an opioid 50 times stronger than morphine to get through the day.  

It’s been 20 years since medical cannabis was legalized for certain medical conditions in Canada – including arthritis – yet the stigma, shame and misinformation are almost as present as ever. 

Is medical cannabis perfect?  

Far from it.  

That’s why the Arthritis Society is advocating for medical cannabis to be available through pharmacies where someone with a chronic condition can ask their pharmacist questions. Just like every other medicine, people should use medical cannabis under the care of a healthcare provider. 

It’s why we’re investing our research dollars into clinical research dedicated to medical cannabis. But more is needed. 

It’s why we work hard to provide accurate and credible information so people can make informed choices.  

The opinion piece published Wednesday will only scare people, confuse them and reinforce stereotypes that are not at all helpful to people living in pain.   

News stories about people with prescriptions often show stock footage of people smoking a “joint” or inhaling from a bong. Most medical patients are using high CBD, low THC capsules and oils – in other words, there’s no smoke and they’re not getting high.  

As the national charity advocating for people living with arthritis, the Arthritis Society is not advocating for pot use. Because we know arthritis pain is one of the most common reasons people use medical cannabis, we are advocating for options. 

We’re going to do everything we can to make sure people like Judith are supported.  

And that includes defending their choice of medicine. 

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