Victor Novak, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, was editor for the special issue and penned an introduction, which said:
“Despite hundreds of years of experience with cannabis going back to the dawn of the humanity, the evidence on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis remains scarce. Meticulously conducted observational studies and clinical trials started to appear in medical literature only recently, yet our patients frequently approach us with the question whether their medical condition can be treated with cannabis.”
An academic primer on medical cannabis use for doctors, the journal issue contains nine studies. The reports relate to various areas of interest to internists and other physicians including; regulations in the U.S. and Europe; cannabinoids and how they affect the endocannabinoid system; ethics for cannabis use; cannabis and its effects for cancer patients; cannabis and the elderly; as well as applications and dosage.
Novak also said the issue was meant to spur conversation about cannabis among doctors and also to encourage needed research, so cannabis medicines can be added to other branches of mainstream pharmacology.
In the U.S., cannabis is classified as a federal schedule one drug, which defines it as having no medicinal value and puts it in the same category as heroin and cocaine. The prohibition also prevents cannabis research, despite growing anecdotal evidence that cannabinoids like CBD and THC can be beneficial to patients suffering from serious medical conditions, including cancer, epilepsy, intractable pain, among several others.
“We feel it is absolutely imperative to not only present the current state of affairs, but also propose the development of the scientific research program within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine. Our ultimate aim should be to scientifically establish the actual place of medical cannabis derived products in the modern medical arsenal.”
“We hope that Cannabis in Medicine special issue of EJIM will provide physicians with a contemporary summary of the different aspects related to the medical cannabis and guide the choice of an appropriate therapy for the indications where the evidence is sufficient to initiate the treatment. We hope that current issue will facilitate the conversation on the future of the medical cannabis research and its introduction into the mainstream medicine.”
EJIM is the official journal of the European Federation of Internal Medicine, which represents more than 30,000 internists across Europe.