Commercial production of medical marijuana is ramping up but physicians want better scientific evidence on when to prescribe it.

B.C. doctors want clarity on prescribing medical marijuana

Clinical trials, tests urged so pot can be treated 'like any other pharmaceutical'

B.C. doctors want the federal government to clear the haze around when they can appropriately prescribe medical marijuana.

Dr. William Cunningham, past president of Doctors of B.C. (formerly the B.C. Medical Association), said Health Canada should fund in-depth studies to generate scientific evidence on the proper medical use of cannabis.

He said Ottawa has so far shown little interest in conducting clinical trials and tests to  clarify the key issues of concern to physicians – which patients should and should not use marijuana, what the correct dosage is, and what dangerous interactions might arise in combination with other medications.

“It would be much better if government studied it properly and it was treated like any other pharmaceutical agent,” Cunningham said.

He spoke in response to the release this fall of preliminary guidelines by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

The guidelines advise doctors to only authorize medical marijuana for patients with chronic nerve pain who haven’t found relief through other treatments.

The college concluded medical pot isn’t appropriate for people under 25, those with a history of psychosis or substance abuse, or for treatment of insomnia or anxiety.

The Arthritis Society has also called for research to determine if cannabis is effective in controlling arthritis pain and, if so, what’s the best delivery method.

The society says large numbers of authorized medical marijuana users are arthritis sufferers.

B.C. doctors are under growing pressure from the public to prescribe pot but many have refused to do so due to concerns about liability and the lack of acceptable scientific evidence.

Other pot-friendly doctors actively court the medical marijuana business, some running web clinics that offer rapid approvals via video conference.

“That is a huge concern,” Cunningham said. “I don’t think anybody should be doing that by Skype or FaceTime without examining the patient.”

Federal policy has put doctors in a very difficult position of being expected to prescribe a drug that is not authorized for therapeutic use, he added.

Nearly 40,000 Canadians are believed to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Commercial producers are building medical marijuana factories that Ottawa intends to make the sole legal sources.

But a court challenge of the new federal policy is expected to be heard next year and previously licensed users hope to retain their ability to grow their own marijuana.

Cunningham said Doctors of B.C. is also supporting the development of screening tools to detect drivers impaired by marijuana.

Just Posted

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

Saanich preschool celebrates 30 years with reunion event

Thousands invited RSVP for Carrot Seed Preschool 30-year celebration

Sidney Museum’s Chief Dan George exhibition sees surge of interest

Four mayors, federal Green leader, Tsartlip reps to attend June 21 opening ceremony

Oak Bay artist co-op highlights autobiographical Snapshots showcase

Snapshots runs from June 4 to 22 at Gage Gallery, 2031 Oak Bay Ave.

Reignited embers damage Saanich house in Sunday morning fire

Fire started at around 8:30 a.m. in bucket filled with ashes placed on balcony

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Most Read