Could Cannabis Education Become Core Curriculum for Future Medical Students?

Cannabis Education

Dr. Michael Verbora works at the Canabo Medical Clinic, located in midtown Toronto. He has been giving resident doctors from the nearby University of Toronto with the fundamentals of medicinal cannabis, so they can better care for those who rely heavily on the plant.

Becoming Familiar with Medicinal Marijuana

Doctor Verbora is also the chief medical officer for Aleafia – a medical cannabis company. When students come in to complete their residencies, they have a very limited (if any) education pertaining to the role of cannabis in the treatment and support of diseases. By the time they leave, however, they have a good understanding of:

  • The endocannabinoid system – how it works, what its role is in health and disease
  • The most appropriate way of consumption for medical cannabis, based on the disease or symptoms it is treating
  • The risks and benefits of treating individuals with medical marijuana
  • In what instances it is (or is not) appropriate to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient

Why This is Important

Education is always important, but it is especially so for physicians. The more a physician can know about a wide range of relevant topics, the better. Unfortunately, a great number of physicians do not currently understand how medicinal cannabis works nor how to effectively utilize it in the treatment of patients.

How the Issue is Getting Fixed

With widespread legality of cannabis for medicinal use, more doctors need to become knowledgeable on the subject. This is imperative for safe, practical use – as well as the potential advancement of research into what role cannabis plays in a wide variety of disease (like cancer, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s Disease, for example).

There was such a gap in education surrounding this subject that the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (also known as the CFMS) have proposed that a new course covering a “longitudinal, evidence-based cannabis course” into all medical undergraduate programs across the country.

The paper states that there is a very large gap surrounding cannabis education. In fact, there are little to no courses currently available for those who would like to become more educated. What is learned is either through independent studies or residencies, like the one mentioned in the beginning of this article.

 Roadblocks and Controversy

Legalizing medicinal marijuana is not a new idea. Many states (US) and provinces (Canada) have allowed cannabis for medicinal usage for a number of years. Yet this has not fully dispelled the reputation of weed as a drug, as set about by the infamous “War on Drugs,” launched decades ago.

Due to misinformation in the decades since, many professionals and patients believe that marijuana is an “evil” substance of the likes of heroine or methamphetamines. Yet this isn’t true. While street weed may, indeed, be contaminated with other substances, marijuana itself is a very natural plant which is primarily non-harmful to humans. The slew of side effects seen in recreational usage are primarily attributed to a high THC content caused by cross-breeding programs exactly for those desired effects. Medicinal cannabis, on the other hand, leans towards a higher CBD content which does not produce as many – or any – unnecessary side effects.