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Overcoming Challenges with Medical Cannabis in Canada

The history of cannabis use, current regulations, and emerging evidence of medicinal cannabis’s effectiveness are all complex, and we must come together and fight for what we know is best for patients! 

Medicinal cannabis may be a valuable tool in the management of certain conditions like chronic pain, and more research and education are needed to ensure safe and effective use. Most important of all, medical patients must be assessed and monitored by a trained healthcare practitioner, just like any other medication. When people with serious health conditions—and sometimes life-threatening ones—are pushed to self-medicate using recreational cannabis products and without medical supervision, there is a serious risk of ineffective symptom management, problematic cannabis use, incorrect dosing and product selection, and side effects.

The legal framework for medicinal cannabis in Canada has evolved significantly in recent years, but there are still challenges when it comes to access and affordability. The source and price of medicinal cannabis continue to be areas of concern for patients and healthcare providers alike. As the landscape continues to evolve, it will be important to ensure that patients have access to safe, effective, and affordable medicinal cannabis products.

How is Starseed overcoming these challenges?

1) Starseed Medicinal is the leading medicinal cannabis producer, partnering with unions, employers, insurers, and patients in need to deliver affordable and responsible cannabis coverage. Starseed is now the preferred provider for over 300,000 Canadians suffering from medical conditions and seeking to learn more about cannabis therapy.

2) Starseed offers a compassionate care program to patients who need financial assistance to obtain their medicinal cannabis.

3) With cannabis now well-established in Canadian healthcare, Starseed provides evidence-based education to physicians and healthcare professionals working in long-term care and retirement homes, primary care clinics, and specialized pain clinics.

4) To support clinical decisions, Starseed created a high-quality database of patient-reported real-world evidence. While there is some evidence that cannabis can help with conditions including chronic pain and nausea, Starseed acknowledges that additional research is needed for specific conditions and cannabis product standardization.

5) Starseed released a first-of-its-kind digital Patient Treatment Plan for patients who need tailored products and practical dosing instructions based on their healthcare provider’s recommendations. As a team of healthcare professionals, we are committed to providing medical pathways and patient-centered services through technology, innovation, and education in order ensure safe and effective cannabis use.

6) It is critical to overcome misconceptions and stigma to move the Canadian medicinal cannabis program forward. While cannabis contains psychoactive components that can cause euphoria (or a “high”), medicinal cannabis products are carefully formulated to minimize unwanted side effects while maximizing therapeutic benefits. Patients can choose from a variety of products with varied levels of cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, CBN), such as oils, capsules, and topicals.

Starseed sees medicinal cannabis as an essential part of a broader shift towards a more patient-centered approach to healthcare. Healthcare providers are increasingly incorporating cannabis into their treatment plans and collaborating with Starseed to ensure that patients receive safe, effective treatments as cannabis becomes more accepted as a potential therapeutic option.

Clarke, H. & Fitzcharles, M. (2023). The evolving culture of medical cannabis in Canada for the management of chronic pain. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 14, 1-11.

Previous Article
Fibromyalgia and Endocannabinoid Deficiency Theory
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue. It is a relatively common condition, affecting 2% of Canadians. Despite being a relatively common condition, the causes of fibromyalgia are still not well understood, and treatment options are limited. Recently, researchers have been exploring the role of the endocannabinoid system in the development and management of fibromyalgia. The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of receptors and chemicals that play a role in regulating pain, mood, and other physiological processes. One theory is that endocannabinoid deficiency may play a role in the development of fibromyalgia. The endocannabinoid system helps regulate pain perception, and a deficiency in this system could lead to an increase in sensitivity to pain. This could help explain why people with fibromyalgia experience pain even in the absence of any obvious physical cause. There is evidence to support the theory that endocannabinoid deficiency may play a role in fibromyalgia. Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia have lower levels of endocannabinoids, such as anandamide, compared to healthy individuals. This suggests that an endocannabinoid deficiency may be a contributing factor in the development of fibromyalgia. To address endocannabinoid deficiency in fibromyalgia, some patients have turned to medical cannabis. Medical cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids, which can interact with the endocannabinoid system and help regulate pain perception. In some cases, medical cannabis has been shown to be an effective treatment for fibromyalgia, helping to reduce pain, improve sleep, and increase overall quality of life. It is important to note that medical cannabis is not a cure for fibromyalgia and that further research is needed to fully understand its potential as a treatment option. However, for some patients with fibromyalgia, medical cannabis may offer a much-needed alternative to traditional pain management methods that may be less effective or carry more side effects. Learn more about Chronic Pain In conclusion, the endocannabinoid system may play a role in the development and management of fibromyalgia. Endocannabinoid deficiency may contribute to the pain and tenderness experienced by people with this condition, and medical cannabis may offer a promising alternative for those who are struggling to find effective treatment. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between endocannabinoids and fibromyalgia, and to determine the best ways to address endocannabinoid deficiency in this population. Need help getting a Medical Cannabis Treatment Plan for Fibromyalgia? Book an appointment here. References: Benedict, G., Sabbagh, A., & Conermann. (2022). Medical cannabis used as an alternative treatment for chronic pain demonstrates reduction in chronic opioid use – a prospective study. Pain Physician Journal, 25, E113-E119. Retrieved from Johal, H. et al. (2020). Cannabinoids in Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders 13, 1-13. Herman, J., Devji, T., Chang, Y., Simone, J., Vannabouathong, C., et al. (2020). Cannabinoids in chronic non-cancer pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, 13, 1-13. Retrieved from Russo, E. Clinical endocannabinoid deficiency reconsidered: current research supports the theory in migraine, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, and other treatment-resistant syndromes. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 2016.
Next Article
Medical Cannabis and Sleep
Sleep plays a crucial role in our overall well-being, impacting our physical health, mental clarity and emotional balance. Unfortunately, 1 in 4 adults in Canada experience sleep troubles. Sleep disturbances are associated with increased risk of depression and cardiovascular disease. Current available pharmacological treatments for sleep disorders (i.e., benzodiazepines, hypnotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics) have many unwanted adverse effects, including dizziness, cognitive impairment, daytime sedation, weight gain, and possible dependency. As a result, alternative therapies have gained attention, and medicinal cannabis has emerged as a potential solution for sleep-related issues. First, it is important to understand that there are many co-occurring conditions associated with sleep disorders that should be assessed and treated before considering cannabis as a treatment option, such as: Medical conditions including pain, sleep apnea, GERD, metabolic issues, Parkinson’s/Alzheimer’s, restless legs, and gender-specific such as menopause/prostate. Mental illness including mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and stress. Contributing medications/substances such as steroids, bronchodilators, decongestions, cardiovascular meds, opioids, and stimulants. Sleep-related issues are one of the most prevalent reasons people report taking medicinal cannabis. THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids, and they both play a role in the regulation of different physiological processes, including sleep. According to research, THC may have a dose-dependent effect on sleep: low doses show to reduce sleep onset latency and increase slow-wave sleep and total sleep time, whereas high doses appear to cause sleep disturbances. CBD, on the other hand, has been suggested to be stimulating at low doses, but when used to treat associated symptoms of evening anxiety or pain, CBD is thought to help in sleep. A new randomized double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study finds medicinal cannabis improves sleep in adults. The cannabis oil with 10mg/mL THC and 15 mg/mL CBD was well tolerated and was effective in improving both time and quality of sleep. Shop for Observatory Balanced CBN is also gaining more recognition for its ‘sedative effect’ as a sleep aid. While the research on CBN and sleep remains inconclusive, CBN is believed to have significant fewer intoxication effects that THC. Shop for Pure CBN Medicinal cannabis holds promise as a potential therapeutic tool for individuals struggling with sleep disorders and associated conditions. Its ability to induce sleep, improve sleep quality, and alleviate pain makes it an attractive alternative for those seeking natural sleep aids. However, the effects of cannabis and sleep can vary depending on the route of administration (i.e., oral vs. inhaled), dose, and individual differences in tolerance and sensitivity. • Always remember that good sleep hygiene could lead to better sleep: • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bed • Maintain a regular bedtime/waketime • Practice relaxation and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques • Reduce noise in the sleeping environment • Restrict naps to 30 minutes • Exercise regularly • Review medications with your provider/pharmacist regularly Need help getting a Medicinal Cannabis Treatment Plan for Sleep? Book an appointment here. References • Health Canada. For health care professionals: cannabis and cannabinoids. 2018. Available: • Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: Final report. Sleep Health 2015; 1:233–43. • Irish LA, Kline CE, Gunn HE, Buysse DJ, Hall MH. The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Medicine Reviews 2015; 22:23–36. • Ried, K., Tamanna, T., Matthews, S., & Sali, A. (2023). Medicinal cannabis improves sleep in adults with insomnia: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study. Journal of Sleep Research, 32 (3), 1-12. • Suzuki K, Miyamoto M, Hirata K. Sleep Disorders in the elderly: Diagnosis and management. Journal of General and Family Medicine 2017 Apr; 18(2):61–71. • Vaillancourt, R., Gallagher, S., Cameron, J.D., & Dhalla, R. (2022). Cannabis use in patients with insomnia and sleep disorders: retrospective chart review. Retrieved from