Dr. Grotenhermen, the charismatic canna doc you might have seen or encountered in the world of ground-breaking medical cannabis science auf Deutschland, was on stage a lot in Berlin last week. He and a group of world-famous scientists, doctors, and medical researchers came together, as they do once every two years, for the bi-annual meeting of the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicines.
The audience was large, international and attentive.
What Is New?
There is clear evidence that cannabis is a wonder drug for a range of neurological conditions – from Parkinson’s’ to Alzheimer’s to epilepsy and traumatic brain damage. That was a big part of the conference discussion.
There are brave doctors who now say, in public, and professional conferences such as this one, that treating seriously ill children with cannabinoids, including small amounts of THC, is also effective.
The opioid-cannabinoid discussion was also in the room, with rather shocking data out of the US proving what activists and advocates have long known – cannabis is a gateway drug off of opioids, not on to it.
One of the coolest things about this conference is that it has stayed true to, since its inception, the inclusion of patients. Everyone in the room knows how hard it is to get trials going, and every serious canna doctor also knows that sometimes their best “research labs” are the unceasing din of patients now demanding the drug.
While the research and the data from both mouse and human trials is important, so are patient experiences and the IACM has never forgotten that.
The IACM is also making a concerted effort to bring diversity to speakers. There is now spoken understanding that women and cannabinoids are the next unexplored frontier.
Perhaps the best panel from the nitty gritty end of the conversation was a frank “how to” for doctors considering treating their first cannabis patient. There are not enough of them. Anywhere. A fact that the IACM is also dedicated to changing.
What Is Not New?
As encouraging as advances are, if not the range of voices now uniting globally calling once and for all for medical change, there of course is much that is not new.
Doctors and researchers talked about frustrated funding efforts, including for trials. Patients as always have stories to share about stymied access and punishment.
There is a deep seated understanding, at least within the ranks of the pro-cannabis medical community, that the pace of change and acceptance is still too slow. As one questioner to the patient panel posited, perhaps the medical community should again take up the mantle of struggle that was first pioneered by gay activists in the struggle against AIDS and dropped during much of the modern legalization movement post 2010 in Canada and the U.S.
We are, as cannabis patients, everywhere. Get used to it.