Medical Marijuana: Approve it like any other prescription drug say Canadians

OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - A national poll conducted for the Canadian Medical Association found that 85 per cent of Canadians believe that medical marijuana should go through the same rigorous testing and approval as other medicines. Further, 70 per cent agreed that if Health Canada removes itself from the process for authorizing medical marijuana it is not meeting its responsibility to protect the health of Canadians.

The poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on Health Canada's proposed regulatory changes on medical marijuana found that a majority of Canadians (79 per cent) agree that Health Canada, as the body that approves prescription medicines for safety and efficacy, should maintain its current role in authorizing the use of medical marijuana for patients.

"Citizens rightly expect Health Canada to approve medications on the basis that they have been proven safe and effective and with an understanding of proper dosage and possible side effects," said Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president. "Every other prescription drug in this country undergoes rigorous testing before it is approved for physicians to prescribe to patients, medical marijuana should not be treated any differently."

Physicians have expressed concern about Health Canada abdicating its role in deciding on applications from patients wanting to use marijuana for medical purposes, leaving it to doctors to decide without any guidelines. An overwhelming majority of Canadians (92 per cent) thought it "very" or "somewhat important" that Health Canada not remove itself from its oversight role until such guidelines become available for physicians. The poll coincides with the CMA's submission to Health Canada of comments on the proposed changes to the Medical Marihuana Access Program (http://www.cma.ca/submissions-to-government).

"Canadians agree that the decision on who should be allowed to possess an illegal, untested, potent and extremely variable drug for medical purposes should lie, not with physicians, but with the federal government," Dr. Reid said. "They understand that it's not fair to impose that gatekeeper authority on physicians when the necessary science is clearly lacking."

The online survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted during the week of Feb. 24.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 77,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information:

Lucie Boileau, Manager,
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Outreach
lucie.boileau@cma.ca
Tel.: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610 ext. 1266 Cell.: 613-447-0866


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