New study to examine efficacy of medical cannabis, bring standardization to cannabis industry – SaltWire Network

A new study will seek to determine the efficacy of medical cannabis for specific conditions and help physicians in Canada prescribe it at the right dose, for the right patient. 

Launched Thursday, the Medical Cannabis Real-World Evidence (MC-RWE) clinical trial is being led by Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital, in collaboration with other researches from the University Health Network and Shoppers Drug Mart.  

The MC-RWE clinical trial will see 2,000 patients aged 19 and older who are being prescribed medical cannabis by their physician or “wanting to use validated products” sign up to select medical cannabis products from 12 licensed producers in Canada through an online portal created by Medical Cannabis by Shoppers. 

They will have access to a wide range of products including dried flower, oil extracts and edibles.

Through the portal, patients will track their symptoms using standard questionnaires throughout their “cannabis journey” and then the products they ordered and outcomes related to their symptoms will be tracked over a six-month period, according to Clarke. 

“It’s one of the first studies where we have the opportunity to look at the effects of medical cannabis from strains that are validated and verified for chronic pain, sleep and the improvements in potentially anxiety, depression and quality of life,” he said. 

In the past, Clarke said there has been a problem of “significant batch to batch variations” in medical cannabis products, with patients seeing “an average variation of anywhere between 10 to 12 per cent” in over-the-counter recreational products. 

With this study, he said patients will know exactly what is in each product, such as how many milligrams of THC and CBD are being consumed. 

And, if it works for them, Clarke said they can rely on the product being the same between doses.

“If you’re a patient that’s using this drug to effect a specific clinical outcome, you want that effect to be the same, you don’t want it to be 10 per cent one day, 21 per cent the next day. You want to know exactly when you dose things that the dose is precisely what it should be,” he said.

With “so much hesitancy in the medical world right now regarding the evidence around cannabis,” Clarke said this will also give physicians reassurance that the products they are prescribing to patients are having desired outcomes to improve chronic pain or issues with sleep, anxiety or depression. 

He added it will allow Canadians to move from anecdotes about the efficacy of medical cannabis products in improving certain conditions to clinical evidence to back those claims. 

“Physicians in general did not or don’t have today a lot of faith in the way the cannabis industry has purported itself from the medical perspective,” said Clarke. 

“This will be the first step of getting to a place where physicians can have true belief that what the patient is getting is what they’re supposed to be getting and what the outcomes they’re seeing are based on those products and that the next time they go for the products, the products will be the same.” 

For more information about the study, people can visit

Noushin Ziafati is a local journalism initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government.


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