Position Statements


Medical Marijuana (Cannabis) and Parkinson's

Marijuana (also referred to as cannabis), is legally accessible in Canada for medical purposes. To-date, it has not been conclusively demonstrated by science based evaluation that marijuana can directly benefit people with Parkinson’s disease. There is a need for larger, controlled studies to better understand the efficacy of medical use of marijuana for Parkinson’s.

Click the links below to view Supporting documentation for Parkinson Canada’s position statement.

Position Statement (PDF)
Supporting Documentation (PDF)

If you are considering medical use of marijuana for Parkinson’s, we recommend you consult with your health care professional to carefully weigh potential risks and/or benefits for your individual situation.

Parkinson Canada provides credible, up-to-date information on Parkinson’s and care management. We do not provide medical advice. Our purpose is to meet the needs of Canadians living with Parkinson’s by enhancing their knowledge in order to make informed decisions. We will continue to monitor the topic of marijuana for medical purposes and will update our resources as new information becomes available.

For more information on treatment options for Parkinson’s disease, please consult the Canadian Guidelines on Parkinson’s disease at: parkinsonclinicalguidelines.ca

For more information about Parkinson Canada and its advocacy work, including more information about this position statement, contact advocacy@parkinson.ca


Medical Assistance in Dying

On June 17, 2016, Bill C-14 on Medical Assistance in Dying became law in Canada. In response to a demand for information and clarity from the Parkinson’s community across Canada, including: people living with Parkinson’s, their families and the people who provide care for them; Parkinson Canada developed a position statement on the new, federal Medical Assistance in Dying legislation.

Parkinson Canada’s position on medical assistance in dying is guided by Canadian federal legislation; our vision, mission and values; and consultation with many sources including, most importantly, the Parkinson’s community. The statement below was approved by the Board of Parkinson Canada on October 1, 2016.

Position Statement (PDF)
Supporting Documentation (PDF)

Parkinson Canada provides credible, up-to-date information on Parkinson’s and care management. Parkinson Canada does not provide medical advice. Anyone seeking more information on medical assistance in dying as an option should speak to their health care provider.


Medical Advice

Parkinson Canada provides credible, up-to-date information on Parkinson’s and care management. Parkinson Canada does not provide medical advice. Our purpose is to meet the needs of Canadians living with Parkinson’s by enhancing their knowledge in order to make informed decisions. Parkinson Canada makes referrals to health care professionals knowledgeable about Parkinson’s. A person living with Parkinson’s should speak to a health care professional before making changes to medications or care plans.


Non-Endorsement of Products, Services or Enterprises

Parkinson Canada will not endorse any specific product, service or enterprise.
If there is perceived endorsement, caution will be exercised to protect Parkinson Canada’s reputation and credibility. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • pharmaceuticals;
  • home support agencies;
  • private care facilities;
  • insurance companies; and
  • companies that manufacture or sell products and services

Access to Drugs Approved by Health Canada

Parkinson Canada is committed to:

  • ensuring all available treatment options are accessible to Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease; and
  • supporting the inclusion of drugs deemed safe and effective by Health Canada in all provincial formularies

Parkinson Canada supports the current process for drug approval, including the use of Health Canada’s Special Access Programme, and post-marketing surveillance and evaluation.

Parkinson Canada also plays an active role to ensure Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease get equal access to medications and treatments approved by Health Canada for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This includes providing messaging for Canadians affected by Parkinson’s to lobby federal, provincial and territorial governments, ensuring PD medications/treatments are financially covered under provincial and territorial formularies.

Parkinson Canada does not actively lobby to get Parkinson’s drugs/treatments approved by Health Canada through a Notice of Compliance.


Understanding Perceived Endorsement – Key Points 

  1. If asked to recommend a home support agency/nursing home/community program/service, it is best to give more than one example.
  2. When receiving sponsorship from pharmaceuticals, mention “unrestricted educational grants”. Speakers at conferences/workshops should state any conflicts or monies received by the drug company.
  3. Making a referral does not mean endorsement.  For example, making a referral to a movement disorder clinic. Having a list of community programs is preferred. 
  4. It is best to promote a ‘class of drugs’ instead of identifying specific ones, as it may be seen as product endorsement (see position statement on access to medications for further details). 5. The statement on non-endorsement upholds risk management for Parkinson Canada .
  5. The sample disclaimer below has been vetted by legal counsel and can be used as needed on Parkinson Canada materials.

Disclaimer: The contents of this document are provided for information purposes only, and do not represent advice, an endorsement or a recommendation, with respect to any product, service or enterprise, and/or the claims and properties thereof, by Parkinson Canada.


Clarification of Additional Advocacy Efforts and Non-Endorsement 

Parkinson Canada does not endorse any specific medications/treatments through the development of Patient Evidence Submissions. Parkinson Canada participates in the patient/organizational input opportunities provided by FPT governments to ensure the Canadian Parkinson’s Community receives equal access to medications/treatments which have received Notice of Compliance through Health Canada.


Stem Cell Research

General Statement
Stem cell research holds promise for finding a cure and/or treatments for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson Canada is committed to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease and supports stem cell research, including adult, embryonic and skin.

Position on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Parkinson Canada supports the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) which became law in Canada in March 2004. The Act and its framework ensures the consistent and regulated conduct of research, which holds promise for finding treatments or a cure for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson Canada believes the Act balances respect for human life and potential for modern science. Parkinson Canada acknowledges the highly sensitive and ethical issues addressed by the Act concerning embryonic stem cell research. Parkinson Canada respects all points of view on this important topic. See also: Stem Cell Research Q&A | Stem Cell Research and Parkinson Disease pamphlet


Stem Cell Research Q&A

1. What is the purpose of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act?
The Act, which was passed in 2004, provides a comprehensive legislative framework that governs the use of assisted human reproduction, including the use of human embryos for research.

2. What does the Act say?

The Act:

  • regulates ethically-accepted practices for in vitro fertilization;
  • prohibits human cloning;
  • ensures research is conducted within a regulated environment; and
  • establishes an Agency to oversee the legislation.
For details about Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada visit www.ahrc-pac.gc.ca.

3. Does Parkinson Canada fund embryonic stem cell research?
Yes. Parkinson Canada would fund embryonic stem cell research within the regulating framework and with full consent. Through Parkinson Canada’s National Research Program, grants that receive the highest rating for scientific excellence and relevance to Parkinson’s are recommended for funding.

4. What if I do not want my donation to support embryonic stem cell research?
Donations to Parkinson Canada can be directed to any of the four pillars of the organization: research (including psychosocial and scientific research), education, support services and advocacy.

5. Can Parkinson’s be treated by using stem cells?
Not at the present time. For most diseases, such as Parkinson’s, it is still being determined which cells will work best to repair the damaged or diseased tissue, and how to get those cells to the right place in the body (i.e., the brain).