New study underscores importance of medical cannabis rating system

Physicians and patients need meaningful data not presently available

Toronto, March 11, 2020 – A new national study released today by Canadian healthcare company, Reformulary Group, underlines the importance of a medical cannabis rating system and the need for greater information about the composition of each product as well as the therapeutic value of various medical cannabis.

The survey, conducted in summer 2019, revealed six-in-10 medical cannabis patients (63%) are interested in a rating system that categorizes cannabis into product types and helps consumers compare products. Almost half of recreational consumers (47%) showed interest in a rating system as well.

“One of the most important takeaways from this study is it points to the need for a medical cannabis rating system that compares products based on meaningful data, for physicians and patients – right now, Canada lacks such a system,” said Helen Stevenson, CEO of Reformulary Group. “User-generated, anecdotal reviews can be useful for the recreational market, but the medical space needs scientific data points to validate cannabis use as a universally accepted medicine.”

Conducted by RIWI Corp., a global trend-tracking and prediction technology firm, the survey of >2,100 Canadians found that seven per cent of respondents self-reported using cannabis for medical purposes and one-in-four (23%) said they used cannabis recreationally.

Why is a rating system important?
The absence of a framework to compare medical cannabis products based on meaningful data points means there is currently no universal standard for evaluating the quality and safety of cannabis products and minimal guidance on the effectiveness of what is being provided. In contrast, almost every agricultural product sold on the market (beef, eggs, flowers, plants etc.) has a categorization system, ensuring high quality product and transparency to the consumer.

Furthermore, in the pharmaceutical space, medications are classified based on their chemical structure, mechanism-and-mode of action, and therapeutic uses. These designations assist physicians and pharmacists when prescribing medication, help identify drug interactions and inform consumers of a medication’s impacts, risks and effects.

Cannabinoid-based medicines could have a significant place in therapy, yet many physicians appear reluctant to authorize use and employers are hesitant to consider covering medical cannabis under an employee benefit plan. Understanding the composition and quality of each medical cannabis product would help patients, physicians, employers. among many others.

“The study clearly shows for both medical and recreational consumers, scientifically-backed cannabis data is essential,” said Stevenson. “Those who already consume medical cannabis rank predictable outcomes and effects as highly important, while prospective consumers are more likely to seek credible knowledge on therapeutic value.”

Filling the void
Reformulary Group’s soon-to-be released Cannabis Standard Index, was built to fill the void of a medical cannabis categorization and rating system.

About Reformulary Group
Founded in 2011, Reformulary Group is an expert-led healthcare company focused on helping Canadians and companies make sense of medicine. The company’s proprietary drug list, the Reformulary®, and award-winning DrugFinder™ provide Canadians with valuable comparative drug information, reviewed and vetted by an independent committee of doctors and pharmacists from across Canada. Reformulary Group built Cannabis Standard™, a discovery tool to guide medical cannabis use. Cannabis Standard also enables patients to track the impact of medical cannabis on their quality of life using a survey tool recognized by healthcare professionals worldwide. For more information visit

About RIWI
RIWI Corp. (“RIWI”) is a global trend-tracking and prediction technology firm. RIWI’s patented machine-learning software solutions provide a unique, global digital intelligence platform for clients seeking real-time citizen sentiment data anywhere in the world in order to make faster, improved decision-making to grow their investments, evaluate consumer or citizen behaviour, and to monitor, predict and reduce violent conflict. RIWI has collected response data from more than 1.6 billion interviewees in 229 countries and territories without collecting any personally identifiable information. RIWI’s public health data and technology have been peer-reviewed in leading scientific publications, including PLOS Medicine, The Lancet, and Nature. RIWI works with global institutions such as The World Bank, Freedom House, and BofA Securities – and top research Universities around the world, including Harvard University, the University of Toronto, Australian National University, and EU-based Universities – which require falsifiable, scientific, privacy-compliant data, and which require that personally identifiable information neither be collected nor put at risk.

About the study
For this study, RIWI engaged more than 2,100 Canadian Web users, aged 16 and over, randomly and anonymously. Data collection took place from June 22, 2019 to July 18, 2019. Roughly 100 Canadians were asked the same question set every day to ensure the data were consistent and falsifiable. No personally identifiable information was collected, stored or transferred, nor could any personally identifiable information be inferred from any data collected. For this study, the data are representative of the Web-using population in Canada, and further, are re-weighted to the most current Census data in order to ensure generalizability. More than half of RIWI survey-takers in Canada have not taken a survey of any other kind in the prior month.