It’s being called the first real-world study of medical cannabis, and researchers at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) predict that it will provide much-needed insight into the link between cannabis genetics and patient outcomes.
Led by Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital, the Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence (MC-RWE) study will involve at least 2,000 participants whose medical cannabis use will be observed over a period of 24 weeks. Those in the study will be able to access a range of medical cannabis products that have consistent genetic, chemical, cannabinoid, and terpene profiles, which will address an ongoing issue with anecdotal evidence.
“The challenge with the medical use of cannabis,” said Clarke, “is that physicians and patients are unsure of the quality of products being consumed. For the first time we will have a national repository of data that can provide answers about the effectiveness of these products.”
In addition to the UHN—which includes the Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and The Michener Institute of Education—the MC-RWE study will involve Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, MediPharm Labs, and Avicanna.
Using the online portal created by Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, a subsidiary of Shoppers Drug Mart, trial participants will know exactly how many milligrams of THC and CBD they are consuming. Products will include four sprays and three oils manufactured by Barrie, Ontario-based MediPharm Labs, and five products from the Rho Phyto brand, manufactured by Avicanna, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Toronto.
The consistency of the medical cannabis will be assured from seed to package through a partnership with TruTrace Technologies, a Calgary-based company whose StrainSecure track and trace platform is the first blockchain-secured platform to track intellectual property for cannabis.
Clarke, who is also the medical director of UHN’s Pain Research Unit, said he hopes the novel study helps change the way doctors view medical cannabis.
“Ensuring quality standards will allow physicians and their patients to be confident about using medical cannabis to treat a wide range of pain-related ailments.”