Patient Safety Awareness Week ran from March 10 – 16, 2019, serving as a national safety education and awareness campaign committed to providing excellent patient care with the focus on safety and wellbeing. While this observance week offers a time to reflect and ask if we are putting patients first, patient safety should be a daily practice. Cannabinoids are known for their therapeutic potential across a myriad of care, from cancer treatment to safer alternatives to opioids, traditional pharmaceutical intervention when used to treat Opioid Use Disorder and chronic pain management.
Cancer & Cannabis
Cannabis-based treatments have proven their success in treating cancer-related symptoms. And while we will need to continue our studies into the breadth and depth of what cannabis can do in the field of cancer, promising data continues to point to the potential of cannabis to treat cancer itself. Personalized treatments determined by patient and cancer type are among the safest treatment solutions and potential cures. Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing a platform which will provide precise therapies on an individualized basis. With the use of novel drug-screening tools, artificial intelligence and cannabinoid-based therapies, Cannabics is “treating cancer with precision.” By introducing personalized treatments, patients receive the highest quality of care.
Cannabis vs Opioids
The opioid epidemic affects an estimated 26–36 million people worldwide. This 2015 study indicates accidental opioid overdose led to the deaths of 33,000 people. Although FDA-approved, opioid replacement therapies and maintenance medications come with a long list of potentially harmful side effects and present the issue of misuse and overdose. These side effects include nausea, respiratory depression, mood swings, depression, mania and relapse. Clearly, this type of treatment therapy poses a serious risk and therefore does not provide a long-term solution. It is safe to say that we need to rethink opioid addiction treatment and explore less harmful more sustainable alternatives.
There have been numerous studies outlining the benefits of cannabis for medical treatments. According to this study, cannabis is considered a safe and effective alternative therapy for opioid addiction. Conventional pharmaceutical intervention does not address the underlying medical condition and can, in fact, increase dependency and addiction behaviors. Alternately, cannabis contains therapeutic properties that are known for soothing pain, suppressing opiate induced cravings and controlling withdrawal syndromes. Moreover, it does not present the risk of harmful drug interaction as seen with conventional pharmaceutical drugs such as buprenorphine and methadone.
Chronic Pain & Cannabis
The analgesic effects of marijuana and its ability to relieve pain, date back 5,000 years. With the recent legalization of medical marijuana in 34 states and no need for a prescription, clinicians are able to provide referrals for cannabinoids to safely treat a variety of conditions including “any chronic medical condition that limits ability life activities.” This survey from the Journal of Pain states that patients experiencing chronic pain were able to reduce opioid use by 64 percent and “improve quality of life,” with the use of medical cannabis. Opposed to harmful drugs like heroin, cocaine, or nicotine, medical cannabis is reported to be safe for long-term pain management with few or no side effects. When it comes to pain relief, the goal is to provide a safer alternative treatment to opioid use.
Overall, there’s more than three areas where we can stand to reevaluate if patient safety and wellbeing are at the heart of our medical solutions. While change takes time, it cannot happen soon enough. Accelerated action is required if we are to remain committed to the improvement and safety of care moving forward.