Doctor using medical pot to treat nursing home residents

Troy Shantz

A Sarnia doctor has closed his family practice and shifted his focus entirely to medical marijuana.

Dr. Blake Pearson is using oil produced from cannabis to treat patients with a wide range of disorders, including arthritis, degenerative discs, sleep disorders and the treatment of chronic pain.

“I’ve been able to lower patient opiate doses in some cases,” the Corunna native said.

“We’ve been able to take people off three or four different medications and replace them with… some form of cannabis drops.”

Among his patients are residents at Trillium Villa Nursing Home in Sarnia.

“We had families actually asking us, ‘Why can’t we get medical marijuana in here?’” said Kim Van Dam, administrator of the 152-bed facility.

Trillium’s attending physician, Dr. John O’Mahony, identified those he thought might benefit from treatment.

Pearson said the drops he administers contain cannabidiol or CBD at levels suited to match patient needs. The drops offer pain relief but without the buzz, he said.

“This cocktail doesn’t get you high. That’s a really important piece.”

Van Dam said eight residents are taking medicinal marijuana and the data Pearson has gathered so far is encouraging.

“We’ve seen some really great results already,” she said. “People who were on multiple narcotics and opioids, basically are coming on to just the cannabis oil.”

Dr. Pearson operates out of the Rapids Family Health Team centre at 1150 Pontiac Dr. and can be found at the nursing home two or three days a week.

He has seen patients on a referral basis from Windsor to Goderich since transforming his practice on Feb. 1.

Pearson said health professionals have been slow to embrace the potential of medicinal cannabis. He attributes that to the stigma surrounding the recreational marijuana use and a shortage of evidence from clinical trails.

“But those trials are mounting and the evidence is growing,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of time before we have that strong clinical research backbone that’s needed for the medical community to accept it.”