Physicians in Canada are prescribing cannabis. They have been doing so for years, and will likely continue to do so after recreational cannabis is legalized this fall. But the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says that doctors in Canada want to see the phasing out of the medical cannabis access program once pot is legalized. And no doubt, some do.
But this position is shortsighted, for all sorts of reasons. First off, over 13,000 of the CMA’s own members are currently prescribing cannabis in their practices, and over 296,000 Canadians across the country regularly use cannabis for a medical condition.
The CMA’s position on cannabis for medical purposes is that there is “insufficient evidence on risks and benefits, the proper dosage and potential interactions with other medication.” However, this view ignores thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles and studies that provide evidence of the efficacy of cannabis use for some medical conditions — chronic pain, as one example. While we do not deny that more clinical studies are needed, surely the publishing of over 10,000 peer reviewed articles signals that the use of cannabis in medical treatment is not some fringe endeavour.
There are numerous risks in eliminating a medical stream of cannabis access — risks that include things like the loss of guidance around dosing and administration, contraindications to cannabis use, screening for dependency risk and potential drug interactions. Essentially, it ignores the realities physicians are facing on the ground.
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