In Latin America, requests for CBD oil propelled legalization legislation forward.
Acceptance aside, entering “es CBD peligroso?” into a search engine reveals a multitude of opinions from medical professionals, amateurs, and activists alike both refuting and confirming the danger of CBD oil.
Conferences and educational events are some of the ways that cannabis advocates and companies are providing fact-based research to consumers, but questions and misinformation abound.
Problems of clarity
Three news stories from Peru, Chile, and Mexico highlight some of the difficulties doctors and patients face in creating access to CBD oil.
“Misinformation continues to surround medicinal cannabis use,” La Republican Peru reported on March 26. “Attention: Do not confuse cannabis seed oil or hemp oil with medicinal cannabis,” reported Cannabis Chile. Two weeks ago, Zocalo Mexico published a story titled, “Why cannabis is not used for medical purposes in Mexico."
Each of these stories highlights the difficulties consumers have when trying to access information about CBD.
Peru, which just announced deregulation guidelines a few weeks ago is newly re-aligned to bring CBD oil to patients in need.
The article asserts: “Specialists say that fears are due to ignorance,” but continues by adding that consumers are legitimized in their ignorance because of “lack of information” from researchers and educators about certified medicinal CBD oil and how it affects the body.
Dr. Jean Paul Osores, a physical medicine specialist, confirmed in the exclusive with La Republica the reality of patient concerns indicating that, from his experience, potential patients believe they might “consume a hallucinogenic substance."
The regulatory framework to provide medical prescriptions remains limited, and he says “led some mothers, empirically and illegally, to opt for wrong products to treat their children.”
Cannabis Chile’s article warns consumers that Mapuche pharmacies, independent pharmacies run by Chile’s largest ethnic group, sell hemp seed oil, which some consumers believe is equivalent to CBD oil; but it’s not, the site insists.
In a similar critique to La Republica, lack of appropriate prescription framework in Chile furthers stigma and creates desperation on behalf of patients and caregivers.
According to Zocalo, doctors in Mexico, too, face shortages of medicine, and they feel untrained to prescribe it to patients. The site even cited that the INCB, the UN’s narcotics board, works with Mexican doctors to relieve stigma around opioids, which it insists are better options for pain management than CBD oil.
What are the solutions?
International recognition of CBD oil as an option for patients with certain types of illnesses has been slow to emerge. Currently, therapeutic cannabis companies assume much of the responsibility to support deregulation, prescriptions, access, and education.
Khiron Life Sciences Corp. (TSXV:KHRN), (OTCQB:KHRNF), recently launched a Latin American medical education program with events in Colombia, Mexico, and across Chile.
Alvaro Torres, Co-founder, and CEO disclosed the company’s strategy in a press release.
“To build a network of doctors and health care professionals across Latin America. We welcome and appreciate the endorsement of the Mexican College of Internal Medicine . . . and look forward to working with their members as we expand our education program."
In Chile, the company is partnering with Fundación Daya and DayaCann, the first cannabis licensees in Chile. Leveraging this partnership, Khiron is committed to providing CBD education in Chile as well.
Canopy Growth Corporation (TSX:WEED) (NYSE:CGC), in conjunction with their Peruvian partner, Spectrum Cannabis Peru S.A.C, also announced an education program. According to a statement, it will build a “range of medical cannabis-focused events for physicians, healthcare professionals, and cannabis-focused patient groups”.
The company aims to develop new curricula and enhance the education already accessible in Peru by participating in a beginners course on medicinal cannabis currently hosted by Peru’s medical college.
Despite education, misinformation persists
Access to education and medicine are fundamental problems identified by the articles above. Cannabis firms are providing considerable resources to create solutions for these problems.
Concentrating resources in urban centers, in theory, distributes them to the most people, but in an educational context, rural communities and communities outside of the major cities are places with the least access to verified information and are places that have had the most experience with the illegal narcotics industry.
One aspect of the education programs that stands out is their reliance on big cities as centers of education. It is not clear from the articles where misinformation originates.
Consistently studies show that rural doctors and residents have greater difficulty accessing accurate information on a spectrum of issues. Research from the Neiman Lab, a reliable way to fight misinformation, is bringing truth to rural communities. In the United States, journalists launched a “radically rural” information symposium to help combat the spread of fake news outside of cities.
With fake news more likely to be perpetuated in rural areas and with much of the illegal cannabis industry in Latin America located outside of cities, there is a correlation between how misinformation might spread in a rural context.
Universal access to medicine and education are vital solutions to overcome stigma and misinformation relating to medical cannabis. As the market blossoms and education programs expand, misinformation problems are likely to dissipate.