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Origin House founder targets $1 Million for Medical Cannabis Research and Care through Cedars Cancer Foundation

Marc Gillian Family

Having reached the original fundraising goal of $250,000 for the Lustig Family Medical Cannabis Research and Care Fund of The Cedars Cancer Foundation, Marc Lustig, Chairman and CEO of Origin House, announced today that the new objective is to grow the fund to $1-million over the next four years.

This Fund supports a best-in-class medical cannabis program as part of the Division of Supportive and Palliative Care at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), as well as vital research, training and education. A first-of-its-kind in Canada medical cannabis therapy pilot project was launched in January 2018 with support from the Cedars Cancer Foundation and the Rossy Cancer Network’s Quality Improvement Initiatives Fund.

“In the clear light of day and in the darkest hour of night, cancer is dreadful,” underscored Marc Lustig, a McGill graduate and founder of Origin House. “Evidence indicates that cannabis has a beneficial role to play in alleviating patient suffering, but we need to invest more in medical cannabis care, research and training. For this reason, my family and I are challenging Canadians to join us in boosting Cedar’s leadership in supportive and palliative care and in supporting health care professionals and scientists working in this emerging field. So please make a donation today to our Fund through the Cedars Cancer Foundation.”

“Over 20,000 cancer patients receive care at the MUHC and we are seeing an increased demand for medical cannabis therapy,” stated Dr. Antonio Vigano, Director of the Cancer Rehabilitation Program at the MUHC, Associate Professor of Oncology at McGill and a Principal Investigator in two medical cannabis clinical trials. “Medical cannabis can alleviate pain and the significant side effects that accompany cancer, such as loss of appetite, anxiety and insomnia. Our pilot project was insightful, but improving access, adjusting type, dose and the frequency of cannabinoid treatments through a precision-medicine approach, studying the long-term outcomes and assuring appropriate training for healthcare professionals are necessary. This is why the Lustig Family Medical Cannabis Research and Care Fund is so critical.”

Cancer affects people physically, psychosocially and spiritually. The MUHC’s Division of Supportive and Palliative Care addresses these and other aspects and their overall impact on quality of life through a range of inpatient and outpatient programs and services, including Psychosocial Oncology, a Cancer Pain Clinic, Lymphedema Clinic, and Cancer Rehabilitation Program, which includes the McGill Nutrition and Performance Laboratory, Cachexia Clinic and more recently the Cannabis Program in Oncology.

“Statistically, one in two Canadians will face cancer in their lifetime and one in four will die from it so chances are every person in this country is or will be touched by the disease,” noted Dr. Manuel Borod, Director of the Division of Supportive and Palliative Care at the MUHC and Assistant Professor of Oncology at McGill University. “As our Division is a Level-4 supraregional centre of excellence, we provide compassionate, specialized care for patients from across Québec, and we assure that dignity and respect are present throughout each stage of care. Community support goes a long way to improving our patients’ quality of life.”

A best-in-class medical cannabis program for cancer patients at the MUHC

Training and education on the medicinal use of cannabis for oncology professionals

The development and carrying out of clinical trials on medicinal cannabis for pain and symptom control in cancer patients.

Cedars Cancer Foundation President and CEO Jeff Shamie added: “We are very grateful for the ongoing support of the Lustig family and the sustained investments of individuals and families who are helping Cedars grow its support of world-class care, research and education at the MUHC and throughout the Rossy Cancer Network. It is exciting to see that the first-year goal has been achieved, and Cedars hopes that the Lustig family’s appeal will resonate far and wide.”

The Lustig family has supported the Cedars Cancer Foundation since 2011, initially for breast cancer and, now, with this Fund for medical cannabis research and care. They continue to promote leading-edge programs for patients across the MUHC, Rossy Cancer Network and McGill University Integrated Health Network (RUIS). Cedars looks forward to consolidating supportive care services within the Cedars Oncology Supportive Care Centre.