Pubdate: Sun, 30 Jan 2011
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2011 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dave Mabell
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


It's been legal for years. But just try to get a prescription.

Medical marijuana has become a kind of oxymoron in most of Canada.

The recreational, non-medical kind may be available in almost any 
town across the country. But patients say finding a doctor to 
prescribe the medical kind legalized across Canada more than a decade 
ago is far more difficult.

While some physicians in other provinces are willing to support its 
use, patients say Alberta's doctors are particularly reluctant.

In Edmonton, a spokesperson for the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons of Alberta says members are cautioned not to prescribe 
marijuana and medical purposes. They're free to disregard that 
advice, says communications manager Kelly Eby.

"But if they do, they should follow the guidelines outlined by Health 
Canada," she adds.

On its public website Health Canada outlines how 
patients can qualify for a prescription, and how much doctors should provide.

"Current available information suggests most individuals use an 
average daily amount of 1 gram to 3 grams of dried marihuana for 
medical purposes," it notes "whether it is taken orally, or inhaled 
or a combination of both."

But patients need written authorization, based on an assessment of 
their patient's illness. And Tamara Cartwright, a Taber resident, 
says even when a southern Albertan is living with a condition that 
Health Canada agrees would be improved by medical marijuana, very few 
local physicians will prescribe it or sign papers to help provide access.

While doctors in larger provinces like British Columbia and Ontario 
are better-informed about the medical benefits, she says the 
profession's Alberta organization stands strongly opposed to 
prescribing it. But it goes still further, Cartwright claims.

"They harass and bully any doctor who signs the papers."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom