Public Release: 

World first: Launch of Quebec registry for users of medical cannabis

MUHC researcher heads one of the largest studies ever conducted on medical cannabis

McGill University Health Centre

This news release is available in French.

Montreal, May 11th 2015 -- The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) have launched a registry for users of medical cannabis in Quebec that will allow physicians to better manage its use and monitor patient safety. This innovative project represents the world's first research database on the use of cannabis for medical purposes and places the province at the forefront of research in the field of medical cannabis. The registry was launched in response to a call by the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) for guidelines on the use of medical cannabis in accordance with new government regulations. As of April 1, 2014, cannabis can only be prescribed "within a research framework," as it is not a medically recognized treatment.

"This registry has been developed to address the lack of research data on the safety and efficacy of cannabis," states principal investigator Dr. Mark Ware, Director of Clinical Research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC and associate professor in Family Medicine and Anesthesia at McGill University. "We need this database to help develop and answer future questions on the medical use of cannabis, such as who uses it, for what reasons, through which methods, and at what dose."

The Quebec Cannabis Registry will be used to compile and store clinical data collected directly from patients who use medical marijuana. The data will be gathered from sites and clinics across Quebec, and each participant will provide data for four years after recruitment. Any licensed doctor practising in the province wishing to authorise cannabis for their adult patients can enrol participants in the registry.

Health Canada estimates that over 40,000 Canadians legally consume cannabis to relieve symptoms from such diseases as multiple sclerosis, HIV, cancer or epilepsy.

"We need to improve our understanding of the real-world use of medical cannabis and to make these data available to other researchers and collaborators," explains Dr. Ware. "This is the first registry of cannabis users that has been designed to stimulate research and to broaden our knowledge of this field. The registry will eventually help us better understand the possible risks and benefits related to the use of this product."

"The CCIC is proud to work with Dr. Ware on this province-wide project that will serve as a model for many other countries in the world," says Dr. John Clark, President of the CCIC Board of Directors, who is also an anesthesiologist and a pain specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The CCIC is a non-profit organization, composed of physicians and researchers, that aims to advance the understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education.

"For the registry to succeed, Quebec physicians have to effectively become researchers, and patients have to consent to be research subjects," explains Ware. "The data collected will not have any identifiable patient information in order to protect their privacy." Anonymous questionnaire data will be entered into a secure electronic database that will be hosted and managed by the McConnell Centre for Innovative Medicine of the RI-MUHC at the Glen site.

Over the long term, this ten-year project will result in a research database that will be made available to the international scientific community.

"There is no doubt as to the RI-MUHC's leadership in the area of pain management. This growing field of research is perfectly in line with our drive for innovation," says Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer for the RI-MUHC. "This registry will certainly be a springboard for new discoveries and will position researchers in Canada as world leaders."

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Funding:

The Quebec Cannabis Registry has been funded by a grant from the CCIC. In order to put this project in place, the CCIC received funding from the Collège des médecins du Québec along with Bedrocan Canada Mettrum Ltd. , and Tweed Marijuana Inc.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the Institute is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The Institute supports over 500 researchers, 1,200 graduate students, post-docs and fellows devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. Over 1,600 ongoing projects, including clinical trials, are conducted within our hospitals each year. The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS). http://www.rimuhc.ca

About the CCIC

Founded in 2000, the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) is a Canadian non-profit organization that aims to advance the understanding of the role of cannabinoids in health and disease through research and education. The CCIC provides a variety of education and information tools to Canadian physicians, nurse practitioners, patients and caregivers. The CCIC has developed and implemented over 80 educational events involving close to 3000 health care professionals. http://www.ccic.net

Media contact:

Julie Robert
Public Affairs & Strategic planning
McGill University Health Centre
514 934-1934 ext. 71381
julie.robert@muhc.mcgill.ca

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