Imagine a pain management specialist tells their patient to choose between Vicodin, OxyContin and Dilaudid, to try whatever dose they feel works best for them and to take the medication whenever they feel the time is right. If you were the patient, you would seek another doctor right away. But this is the experience of most patients being recommended medical cannabis by their physicians.
A survey by the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that only about 30% of oncologists felt adequately informed to recommend cannabis. This should not be surprising since cannabis is not included in the curriculums at medical schools. There is simply too little clinical research into the medical benefits of the plant and anecdotal evidence is not enough. Yet, while most doctors will admit they do not know much about cannabis and how it may affect their patients, a greater number are prescribing it.

Hype, not science, is driving demand for medical cannabis. Since science does not tell us much about the therapeutic effects of cannabis, the common practice for treatment follows a start low, go slow protocol. Some doctors even claim that cannabis is a perfect placebo. Maybe they are correct. One technology which may help decipher the medical cannabis enigma is Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. The promise of finding a correlation between the unique spectral fingerprint of a cannabis variety, which is an accurate representation of the plant’s composition captured by a NIR spectrometer , and treatment efficacy for a specific health indication may validate actual therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.

The GemmaCert device for smart cannabis analysis, which also applies NIR spectroscopy, shall be used in  a clinical trial involving 100 patients from the Tel Aviv Medical Center. These patients  receive medical cannabis for chronic pain management. The study seeks to identify correlations between cannabis spectral fingerprints and treatment efficacy. Its findings could help reduce  the average six months it takes a doctor to get their patients on the right dosing following the start low, go slow protocol. These are six long months of compounding healthcare costs, doctor frustration, poor quality of life for patients, including the increased exposure to the serious health risks linked to opiates addiction.

The hundreds of clinical trials underway may improve medical cannabis treatment. But for the foreseeable future more and more people are participating in one of the largest ever uncontrolled clinical trials in history