Pubdate: Tue, 15 Jul 2003
Source: Duncan News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Duncan News Leader
Author: Andrea Radke


Shipping pot straight to the doctor's office is going to cause a lot
of headaches for physicians, says one Valley doctor.

The new federal regulation allowing doctors to dispense marijuana
directly from their offices is a backwards way of thinking, said Dr.
Willie Pewarchuk.

"It's almost a throwback to the old days where doctors dispensed
everything right from their office. It's kind of weird thinking on the
part of the government," he said.

The federal plan will have the government shipping pot from its site
in Flin Flon, Manitoba straight to doctors' offices for Canadian
patients who are legally allowed to use the drug for medicinal purposes.

Doctors will receive the marijuana in the form of seeds, allowing
patients to grow their own or in the form of mature pot.

The new plan could result in compromising the safety of doctors'
facilities and offices, added Pewarchuk.

"We have had two break-ins this year. Not for this reason, but I would
assume that if we were to have marijuana on site, that could promote a
lot more," he said.

The government is forcing doctors to act as gatekeepers to an issue
that is beyond their comfort level, added Pewarchuk.

"I don't see why we should be made gatekeepers to this drug. Who are
we to say who gets it and who doesn't?" he added.

Doctors are already strapped for time and resources, he said, and this
could lead to a larger problem.

Pewarchuk has prescribed pot to only a few patients for those
experiencing nausea related to cancer. While it's to early to tell
whether or not this will cause a rise in patient requests for the
drug, it could happen, he said.

"It's hard for me to say. People who have used in the past will
continue to ask for it and you could possibly have more people asking
for it," he said.

The marijuana will cost $5 per gram and the seeds will cost $20 for a
bag of 30.

The regulation came on the heels of the deadline enforced by an
Ontario court judge who said that the government must supply the drug
if it is to legalize its use for medicinal purposes. The government is
planning an appeal, which could lead to the end of the distribution
plan if it wins.
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