‘Will this help my cat?’ a customer asked showing me a newly ordered bottle of cannabis oil.
‘Doesn’t hurt to try but don’t get your hopes up.’ I answered. That’s the short answer. The long answer is a little more complicated.
What We Know About Medicinal Cannabis
In order to be a good candidate for medical use, a product needs to be effective and safe. I have done a bit of literature review on Veterinary use of Cannabis, as well as having seen quite a few cases first hand during my time working in Animal Emergency. I have seen dogs ingest massive doses of cannabis (oil, resin, dry leaf, etc.) without any long term ill effects. Moreover, it’s the THC component which causes clinical signs of poisoning. The medicinal ingredient CBD is even safer on its’ own. So as far as safety is concerned, Cannabis is a winner.
And This Is What We Don’t Know
When the first Cannabis product (Epidiolorex) was registered for human medical use, quite a few people got excited calling it the beginning of an era. I didn’t get excited. The reason is, the product was registered to treat a very specific human condition (Dravet Syndrome) for which there is currently no medical treatment. It is much easier to register a product when there is not medical competition on the market. If you want to register a new product for a common medical condition, like arthritis – you need a product which either works better or is safer that existing medications, preferably both. And on the effectiveness front Cannabis is not that spectacular. Sure it helps, there is plenty of evidence for that. But with all the hype about medicinal Cannabis production there is pitifully little medical data. This is a bad sign because as anyone familiar with medical trials will tell you – the Big Pharma is looking for winners. Once they are onto a winner, they rush it to market like it’s a medical emergency (with just a glint of Dollar signs in their eyes). When no-one is talking about the results, it’s probably because the product is not a winner (also colloquially known as a loser). I am afraid Cannabis may be the latter, not the former. We will know more in time, but so far the evidence is not earth shattering.
So don’t go rushing to but the latest mail order Cannabis oil wonder pill, or god forbid – buying and of those shonky Cannabis stock market offerings. Give more time for the evidence to emerge. But don’t get too excited.