In this weeks podcast we are joined by Joel Wren, GP and cannabis clinician to discuss about medicinal use of cannabis.
1:16 – Dr. Joel Wren started studying medicine in Queensland. He had been a general practitioner for a couple of years when he came across an ad of cannabis clinic and was intrigued. Initially, he considered it as an interesting part of medicine. However, after joining the clinic, he was completely blown away by the enthusiasm and level of engagement of patients.
3:47 – Dr. Joel agreed that despite of access restrictions and price issues, people are still hugely invested in this idea.
4:40 – Dr. Joel shared that people are generally really excited to start medicinal cannabis so as to relieve their pain. As per him, majority of questions were related to the price concerns and patient’s confusions about online market.
6:57 – Dr. Joel expressed his concerned upon the non-availability of home testing kits to people. He said that since people did not possess such necessary equipment, they were unable to test the toxicity level of cannabis, hemp and other plant medicines which could be endanger their health. He believed that although some online communities were trying to redeem the situation, however, the overall situation remained horrendous.
8:54 – Dr. Joel explained that majority of patients came to him for chronic unexplained pain, arthritis and crohn’s disease. He believed that people got scared due to its difficult diagnosis. He iterated that women, in particular, were susceptible to this disease.
10:24 – Dr. Joel explained that medicinal cannabis is not only useful for menstrual cramps but also aids in curing endocytosis which affects about 1 woman in 10. He was of the view that since this disease requires surgery to confirm disease progression and there are numerous side effects of medicines as well, therefore, women hesitate in coming to GP. However, medicinal cannabis has relieved their anxiety.
12:26 – Dr. Joel enlightened the audience that medicinal cannabis could be used to enhance sexual experience. He elaborated that women could use full spectrum CBD products safely during their menstrual cycles as well. Thus, he described medicinal cannabis as a life changing therapeutic drug.
14:15 – Dr. Joel expressed concerns over regulatory restrictions which made it quite difficult to prescribe multiple cannabis medicines. Although a typical pain management plan could prescribe multiple medicines, however, it is insanely cumbersome to get it approved from Australian government. The most challenging aspect is to anticipate the upcoming pain of periods for keeping women comfortable during that time.
16:40 – As far as side effects are concerned, Dr. Joel asserted that medicinal cannabis exhibited minimal health repercussions. He stressed that most common side effect is fatigue and slowing down in the initial stages. However, gradually the patients feel more active.
18:48 – As president of Cannabis Clinic, Dr. Joel expressed that he felt frustrated with the way anti-cannabis messages further stigmatises the patients and deters doctors in learning about it.
21:57 – Dr. Joel explained that as a GP, he had the duty to continue the care of patient and translate the opinions of specialists to them. Thus, he could see the harmful effects of opioids and no improvement in their overall health.
24:52 – Dr. Joel was of the view that frequent and prolonged use of opioids could sort out the acute pain but gradually a tolerance is built in the immune system which adds to the grief of patients. Despite of such problems, he was appalled that there was no warning on their prescriptions. In this regards, he iterated that although TGA is not providing any alternative, however, it is slowly working on a solution.
26:10 – In response to a question, Dr. Joel agreed that there was no solid evidence against the medicinal cannabis in any study. He revealed that he was often reprimanded on his views on medicinal cannabis on numerous occasions, however, the real problem is that there is no authentic research involved and that the issue is under lock and key for ages.
29:55 – Dr. Joel expressed that although it was not difficult to start practicing medicinal CBD as a GP nonetheless it gets confusing gradually since it is unregulated. He offered the services of Society of Cannabis Clinician which gives resources and guidance to all free of cost. He explained that numerous resources were available for understanding it on government level as well. Additionally, he revealed that society was preparing its own material for studying.
31:45 – Dr. Joel said that in the United in compassion symposium, general admission was allowed where specialists and international speakers would give a holistic overview of therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis. Apart from that, he talked about the Healthcare professional training course which has been organised to enhance the understanding of medical community on said issue. Apart from this, society was also planning to start online courses after getting through IRCC accreditation process so as to ensure quality education.
33:36 – Dr. Joel demonstrated that although different syndromes were treated due to medicinal cannabis, yet, the single best improvement was observed in patient’s sleep cycle. Medicinal cannabis ensured a relief from awful pain which could lead to sleeplessness. When patients are better rested, they are able to stay refreshed and work in a better way.
35:54 – In the debate of CBD vs. THC, Dr. Joel unraveled that he would prescribe CBD for Long term use while THC played a significant role in sleep initiation. He also expressed that medicinal cannabis is not just oil rather it is often employed as a safe devise to vaporise.
37:07 – Dr. Joel said that he was aware of the claims that THC could interfere with RAM sleep. However, he has been going through clinical reviews and while it may be theoretically possible, on the other hand, several other factors were involved including the way it was being administered and the act of balancing out.
38:38 – Dr. Joel was all praises for the Telehealth initiative specifically for GP. However, he warned public that in case Medicare was involved, their prescriptions generated through any online clinic may not get approved. He believed that Telehealth was more beneficial and convenient in case of lockdowns only. He also stated that Government was not in favor of online clinics since they cannot replace regular GPs.
41:34 – Dr. Joel expressed that video or audio based consults were not the safest option. He also described that Telehealth was conceptualised in 2012 but it was shelved due to health risks involved.
43:05 – Dr. Joel elucidated that mental health is highly subjective matter. In case of lockdown, he believed that video consults are still better that audio ones owing to face to face interactions.
43:52 – Dr. Joel clarified that although Government was not in favor of online clinics, there would be a lot of back and forth consultations before such online setups would be scrubbed.
45:52 – Dr. Joel said that he was hopeful the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis would be identified separately by 2028. He said that there were still people who were abusing cannabis and its recreational usage was hurting its medicinal purposes.
48:25 – While Dr. Joel stated that he believed solely in people’s right to do what they want, he thought that cannabis abuse would certainly violates their own safety and must be constrained.
Dr. Joel Wren Profile: