Medicinal Cannabis: A Therapeutic Alternative for Management of Chronic Pain in older Australians:


Presented by:

Leah Bisiani

MHlthSc/Dementia Consultant/RN.1.

“United in Compassion Symposium”, Melbourne, Australia. June 2017

Paper by Leah Bisiani

“Consider the present alternative, which is, we continue ignoring the significant benefits of cannabis, and refuse to contemplate the areas where traditional medicine is ineffectively managing critical conditions. We must provide a united front in advocating for medicinal cannabis as an innovative solution and a way forward within the realms of modern medicine by challenging and dispelling the myths and attitudes associated with cannabis, and sharing what we have recognized as the beneficial attributes associated with this plant”



Our commitment is to put the focus back on patients. Leah’s motivation regarding the emerging medicinal cannabis industry is to “challenge stigmas that have been propagated by judgmental perspectives of society related to negative stereotypical views, of which do not reflect the reality of the people we care for.”

Philosophy of Empathy and Compassion:

“Those who work within the medical and caregiving communities generally enter the health profession because of a belief in the alleviation of suffering for humanity. We aim to speak with empathy and compassion from the perspective of those who deserve to live a life free of suffering. Let us advocate for more empathetic approaches that will benefit our population, alleviate suffering, and maximize dignity, value, and quality of life. It is our responsibility to benefit our people, and to provide them with answers to identified problems and conditions, even and especially when these conditions do not respond to available medicine or practices.” Bisiani’s work is in “innovative approaches, thinking outside the box, and creating change, through the courage of our convictions. Actually, what I truly believe is there is no box,” says Bisiani.

Education is crucial:

Bisiani characterizes the situation well: “It’s real, it’s positive, it’s logical, and it’s humane. All change takes time, because making dreams a reality and anything worth fighting for, requires effort. Let us continue encouraging a solid and robust duty of care, that should be, at the very least, a baseline expectation within our medical community. We are creating a framework that enables current information for prescribers, patients, and society.  We can reverse the stigma, and make it clear we are advocating exclusively for medicine through clinical based research, providing data and evidence for medicinal cannabis as a therapeutic alternative to non-effective regimes. Once provided, there will be a responsibility to honor these results or else be accused of denying assistance and permitting ongoing suffering and anguish. A multidisciplinary approach is required to enable an overall treatment plan to compliment the use of medical cannabis. Considerations of age, nutrition, environmental factors, lifestyle, can all be adjusted to maximize life quality first and foremost. Balance is what we aim for.”


The current landscape of pain in aged care:

“Pain is a fundamental and universal human experience, and thus access to effective pain relief should be regarded as an essential and universal human right. With the influx of baby boomers into the aged care community and an increase in life expectancy of our population, there is a growing need for more effective pain management regimes. Opioid analgesics are widely prescribed currently, yet these agents are associated with the highest degree of drug-related harm. The frequent and significantly dangerous adverse effects associated with opioids are detrimental to living safely, as they often predominantly affect mood, conscious thought, judgement, can create hallucinations and delusions, change cognition, and affect mobility. In relation to people living with dementia, these regimens can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia and potentially place them at higher risk of complications. Another huge issue regarding people living with dementia is that they may be unable to verbally express their pain. People living with dementia feel pain just as acutely as we do, and it is our responsibility to ensure their pain is managed, to avoid catastrophic events associated with acute delirium, behavioral expression and increased debility. It has been indicated that many geriatrics prescribed opioid pain management regimes are still not having their pain effectively managed. There is an urgent need for an alternative approach.”


An available solution:

The potential benefits of medicinal cannabis in treating poorly managed intractable chronic pain has been suggested as a beneficial alternative approach to enhancing quality of life and maximizing comfort and well-being in Australia’s older population. We are the ones with the drive and ability, so that we may revolutionize modern medicine in a way that creates a sustainable future for those in need. We are moving forward, and are fighting for what is right because we care on a level that is inundated with true compassion.

Paper by Leah Bisiani