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

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

.
LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read