Federal Government dumping medical marijuana responsibility onto doctors

OTTAWA, Dec. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is concerned about the federal government's decision to vacate its role in managing the federal medical marijuana access program. The CMA decries the decision, which fails to put patients first and leaves doctors to deal with a pharmacological substance for which there is very little clinical evidence.

"The federal government established the program and is now abdicating its role as a regulator of medical marijuana," Dr. Anna Reid, President of the CMA, said. "Not only does prescribing drugs that haven't been clinically tested fly in the face of a physician's training and ethics, the potential benefits or adverse effects of marijuana haven't been rigorously tested. I have seen teens with psychosis because of marijuana use."

"There's huge potential for harm to patients and the federal government's decision is equivalent to asking doctors to prescribe while blindfolded," said Dr. Reid. "We expressed our concerns to Health Canada during its consultation, but it seems that we were not fully heard."

The comments come in the wake of proposed regulations changing the federal government's Medical Marijuana Access Program. The proposed changes were announced today by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. They would absolve Health Canada from its current role in authorizing the use of medical marijuana by patients and certifying its safety and efficacy. The CMA, along with other national medical associations, repeatedly expressed discomfort with the proposals during Health Canada consultations on the matter.

"Let's be clear: The marijuana of today is not the marijuana of the past. The strains are very powerful and different strains have different effects," said Dr. Reid. "Patients wouldn't want us to prescribe drugs for heart disease, cancer or any other illness without the scientific evidence to back those drugs up.  Why does the federal government want us to do so with marijuana?"

To access comments from CMA President Dr. Anna Reid via a video statement, click on:
www.skyflyproductions.com/CMA-AMC


SOURCE: CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

For further information:

Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations
lucie.boileau@cma.ca
Tel.:  800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610 ext. 1266
Cell.: 613-447-0866