Medical cannabis in supportive cancer care: lessons from Canada

Support Care Cancer. 2020 Jul;28(7):2999-3001. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05403-2. Epub 2020 Mar 14.


Medical cannabis, or cannabinoid-based products, continues to grow in popularity globally, driving the evolution of regulatory access frameworks; cancer patients and caregivers often rely on guidance from their physicians regarding cannabinoid-based treatments. But the majority of healthcare practitioners still feel unprepared and insufficiently informed to make reasonable, evidence-based recommendations about medical cannabis. More than 30 countries worldwide have now legalized access to medical cannabis; yet various nations still face arduous regulatory challenges to fulfill the needs of patients, healthcare practitioners, and other medical stakeholders. This has affected the deployment of comprehensive medical cannabis access programs adapted to cultural and social realities. With a 20-year history of legal medical cannabis access and nearly 400,000 registered patients under its federal access program, Canada serves as a model for countries which are developing their regulatory frameworks. The Canadian clinical experience in cannabinoid-based treatments is also a valuable source of lessons for healthcare professionals who wish to better understand the current evidence examining medical cannabis for oncology patients.

Keywords: Canadian experience; Medical cannabis; Supportive cancer care.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Emotions
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / administration & dosage*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Palliative Care / methods*


  • Medical Marijuana