HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Doctors Cautioned When Prescribing Medical Marijuana
Pubdate: Wed, 23 Jan 2002
Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canada)
Copyright: 2002 CBC


KINGSTON - Doctors in Canada say that even though the government has 
approved the use of medical marijuana, regulations often make it difficult 
to prescribe.

Kingston-based physician Dr. Peter Ford says he has no problems prescribing 
the drug for patients at his HIV clinic. He says the marijuana helps 
relieve nausea associated with HIV medications, and stimulates the 
appetite. But he is concerned with the amount of federal bureaucracy 
involved in the process. Ford says doctors must specify exactly how much 
marijuana a patient needs, and detail the possible side effects.

He says that's impossible because there is no standardized dose, and there 
is not enough scientific research into the effects of marijuana. Ford 
believes the government is just trying to protect itself from future risk 
and shift the liability onto the doctor.

"They're trying to indemnify themselves against anything happening. If 
somebody gets lung cancer ten years down the road, they're going to say 
'Your doctor should have told you about that'," said Ford.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association, the organization that insures 
Canada's 60,000 doctors has begun warming its members about prescribing the 

Dr. John Gray, the secretary-treasurer of the association, says he's 
written to the health minister urging that the rules be changed.

"These regulations were drafted in haste, without enough consultation. It's 
time to scrap them and go back to the drawing board and come up with 
something suitable," said Gray.

The director of Health Canada's medical cannabis access office, Cindy 
Cripps-Prawak, says the wheels of change are in motion, but it will take time.

"There are so many elements within this program which are really are at the 
bud stage and we need to have those in-depth discussions with all of the 
stakeholders that will allow us to move it forward," said Cripps-Prawak.

She noted that new research is currently underway, and that a review 
committee will be set up shortly to consider changes.
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