We are excited to present Volume 96, Issue 3 of the University of Toronto Medical Journal, which focuses on the important and timely topic of Cannabis. Research has identified several potentially beneficial effects of cannabis and cannabis-based products, with promising applications for various diseases, including childhood epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, mood disorders, palliative care and chronic pain.1 In 2001, the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations were enacted in Canada which allowed individuals to legally possess and use medicinal cannabis. Since this time, the number of individuals authorized to use medicinal cannabis has grown exponentially.2 However, the level of clinical evidence available to support cannabis and cannabinoids as pharmacotherapy remains limited for most disorders.1 Concerns have also been raised regarding the potential adverse effects of cannabis use, including the effects of smoke inhalation on the respiratory system, the risk for developing cannabis use disorder, the neurodevelopmental effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain and safety issues surrounding the potential for impaired driving.3 Not surprisingly, the clinical utility of cannabis and cannabis-based products remains an active area of debate among physicians.4
On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country to formally legalize recreational cannabis use on a national scale. It was anticipated that legalization of cannabis, and regulation of its production and sale, would decrease adolescent access and reduce the harms associated with illegal distribution. However, concerns have been raised about the need to better understand the short-term and long-term consequences of cannabis use. Now more than ever, patients are looking to healthcare professionals to educate them about the harms and benefits of cannabis use for recreational and medicinal purposes. It is important that we remain informed as emerging research addresses many of the gaps that currently exist on this topic. In this issue of the University of Toronto Medical Journal, we will highlight recent advances in cannabis research and discuss the impact of legalization in Canada.
This is the final issue of the University of Toronto Medical Journal’s 96th volume. We are very proud of the issues that we have published over this past year and would like to sincerely thank members of the editorial team for all of the hard work that went into preparing each issue. We are also grateful to the patrons that continue to support the University of Toronto Medical Journal and the authors that have allowed us to showcase their important work. We hope that you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed preparing it.
Mazen El-Baba and Mark Lukewich
- Hill KP. Medical use of cannabis in 2019. JAMA. 2019; doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.11868. [Epub ahead of print]
- Health Canada. 2019. Market data under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. Retrieved August 1, 2019 from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/licensed-producers/market-data.html.
- Memedovich KA, Dowsett LE, Spackman E, Noseworthy T, Clement F. The adverse health effects and harms related to marijuana use: an overview review. CMAJ Open. 2018; 6:E339–E346.
- Fitzcharles MA, Shir Y, Häuser W. Medical cannabis: strengthening evidence in the face of hype and public pressure. CMAJ. 2019; 191:E907-E908.