July 7th and The Arthritis Society announced Canada’s first study into the efficacy of medical marijuana for arthritic pain. The new project is funded by the Arthritis Society of Canada and it will be conducted at Dalhousie University.

The emerging theory is that osteoarthritis(OA) pain is in fact neuropathic in nature. If it is indeed neuropathic pain, nerve degeneration would not be impacted by arthritis medication. This would explain why so many suffering from arthritis say the medication doesn’t work.

Dr. Jason McDougall, Bsc, PhD, is leading the investigation.

“It’s been found in other diseases, like Huntington’s disease and MS, that there’s a degeneration of the nerves that cannabis can actually reverse that degeneration,” explains McDougall.

McDougall believes that topical cannabis might be the missing puzzle piece. “One of the ideas that we have is, in the future, to understand what’s actually occurring in the cannabis plant that can alleviate pain and inflammation and put that into a cream or an ointment, which can be applied locally to the joint to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis…It’s getting at the mechanism of what’s causing arthritis pain,” says McDougall.

The Arthritis Society will convene with other organizations at Canada’s first national conference on medical cannabis. They will interact with stakeholders and look at shared plans. So far, they’ve attracted Aphria Inc. and The Peace Naturals Project who have donated $100,000 each.

Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld said “We are proud to do our part to help fuel new discoveries in the field of medical cannabis and work together towards the shared goal of erasing the pain for millions of Canadians living with arthritis… The Arthritis Society’s position paper was a clarion call for our industry, and for all parties, to come forward and collaborate on a comprehensive plan to advance our understanding of arthritis and medical cannabis.”

The Arthritis Society of Canada has been aiding people for over 65 years. Janet Yale, CEO of The Arthritic Society is please about the funding. “It’s gratifying to see such important stakeholders responding to our call to help fund research into this field… More funding helps speed the process of studying medical cannabis, bringing us closer to potentially breakthrough findings.”

Yale believes this step is crucial towards future legislation in Canada.

“People living with arthritis pain are looking for alternatives to improve their quality of life- We need research to help answer the many important questions around medical cannabis and its use. Our goal is to give Canadians the ability to make informed choices about their treatment options and to give physicians evidence-based guidelines to make treatment recommendations for their patients. This project is an important step to achieving these goals,”

It’s a great opportunity for those in Canada to build a strong foundation for medical cannabis founded upon solid research. No illness qualifying someone for medical cannabis should be left of the list.