Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2014
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2014 The Calgary Sun
Author: Dave Breakenridge


For many, Sunday marked the observance of Easter, the most important
holiday in the Christian calendar, and an excuse for the less faithful
to enjoy a visit from everyone's favourite bunny.

For many others, this Easter was also cause to spark up a fat one, as
they marked 4/20, the most important holiday in the marijuana calendar.

Either way, it meant a lot of chocolate was consumed.

The goal of the 4/20 movement is to advocate for pot legalization, but
in the absence of serious movement on that file (Justin Trudeau's
vague promises aside), it can also serve as a reminder that there is
still a struggle for people who are using weed to treat chronic pain,
glaucoma, seizures and a host of other ailments.

There are still roadblocks in the world of marijuana as medicine in
this country.

Despite legitimizing the medical marijuana industry, which some see as
being worth more than $1 billion, and despite listing a ton of
information about the use, risk and studies associated with it, the
feds still don't see pot as "an approved therapeutic product."

This trickles down to the country's doctors. In advance of new
regulations coming into effect, the country's top doctor renewed
concerns with the use of medical pot.

"The new regulations do not address physicians' longstanding
concerns," Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Louis Hugo
Francescutti said in February. "It remains just as we said when the
new regulations were published last June - asking physicians to
prescribe a substance that has not been clinically tested runs
contrary to our training and ethics."

While he's not wrong suggesting that clinical testing is an important
component, there have been roadblocks for researchers to get trials
going in places like the U.S.

The absence of studies does not mean the absence of success, and there
has been some recent work in the area of dosage among users in the
Netherlands and Israel that could serve as jumping-off points for
researchers in Canada.

And surely there is a large enough sample pool in this country. I
understand anecdotal evidence is not as rigorous as the scientific
method, but 40,000 licensees should account for something.

Surely, with nearly 40,000 licences to use medical cannabis in Canada,
there is the ability for researchers to undertake the kind of work the
CMA is looking for.

Conversely, many of the studies that detail the negative effects of
marijuana could also apply to other drugs used to treat conditions
such as pain.

Impaired motor function, risk of dependence, risk of overdose when
mixed with other medication, and even psychosis are side effects that
could be ascribed to use or abuse of opioid painkillers, which are
prescribed daily in this country.

Let's also not forget that people actually die from opioid

Further, is it not against doctors' training and ethics to keep a
patient from accessing safe treatment that can provide relief from
symptoms where other treatments have failed?

Beyond all these issues, there needs to be doctors willing to work
with their patients on marijuana, just as they would with any other

Doctors routinely work with patients on dosage trials until they find
the right fit, and are more than happy to try different prescriptions
if there are issues.

It's not uncommon for patients to turn to marijuana after more
'traditional' medications have failed first.

It's frustrating that as society as a whole moves to being more
accepting of medical marijuana, not to mention mainstream pot
legalization, that the tone displayed by Canada's medical community is
more alarmist than encouraging.

That in itself is not a prescription for positive change. 
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D