Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jun 2014
Source: Metro (Saskatoon, CN SN)
Copyright: 2014 Free Daily News Group Inc.
Author: Trevor Greenway


Rx marijuana. Through arrangement with private firm, Toronto doc now 
seeing patients via Skype for pot scripts

Canadian doctors who prescribe medical marijuana are feeling a chill, 
as health officials apply pressure on them not to prescribe a drug 
they know little about.

A doctor in Toronto was willing to go on the record with Metro to 
talk about the stigma surrounding medical pot and the benefits 
patients derive from the drug. But when he heard several colleagues 
are being scrutinized by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, he backed out.

"Patients' doctors do not want to prescribe and they think that the 
college has said that you cannot prescribe," said the doctor, who we 
agreed to keep anonymous. "It's uncomfortable and there is a stigma behind it."

The physician has started seeing patients via Skype - who are 
connected with him through a private firm for a $300 fee - as more 
and more patients are finding it tough to find a doctor willing to 
sign off on a pot prescription.

He says telemedicine is sufficient for such consultations and the 
patients provide him and the firm government-issued identification 
and their medical records.

He said the problem is the fact there is no scientific data for 
doctors to reference when considering prescribing pot to patients 
with multiple sclerosis, cancer and various chronic pain conditions.

"Physicians receive no training," he said.

Sandy Daviau spent more than a decade looking for a doctor to 
prescribe the drug for his multiple sclerosis. He said with the 
recent changes to Health Canada's medical pot program, which makes 
doctors the ultimate gatekeepers of the drug, more and more patients 
are finding it hard to access the drug.

"It's worse than before," said Daviau, whose initial physician Dr. 
Rob Kamermans was ordered to close his Coe Hill clinic and was 
charged with fraud, forgery and money laundering after he signed off 
on 4,000 pot prescriptions in a year. It's stories like these that 
have doctors worried they will get nabbed for trying to help. "There 
is a clampdown going on right now. There is a political war going on 
out there behind the scenes and we are the pawns right now."

The College of Physicians of Ontario told Metro the federal pot 
program changes provide "significant concern," as doctors are 
expected to prescribe a drug that has no clinical studies. The Quebec 
college is concerned about doctors prescribing pot as well, 
especially via telemedicine or Skype. They are forbidden from using 
telemedicine right now in Quebec.
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