Article by Andrea Woo, The Globe and Mail
The provincial bodies that regulate Canada’s physicians have no way of tracking how doctors are prescribing medical marijuana, leaving them unable to determine how often the drug is prescribed, to whom and in what quantities.
That leaves them with little way to keep tabs on prescribing practices, say the doctors’ colleges in British Columbia and New Brunswick, where regulators are asking for more tools to track medical marijuana.
Earlier this year, a federal auditor-general’s report found that just four doctors issued more than half of all marijuana prescriptions for veterans. Ottawa recently announced it will rein in pot coverage for veterans, a small but lucrative patient base for Canada’s two dozen licensed producers. Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) said last week that reimbursements this fiscal year could reach $75-million.
British Columbia’s PharmaNet database logs prescriptions for opioids and other psychoactive pharmaceuticals, but not medical marijuana, because Health Canada has neither licensed nor approved it as a therapeutic product.
“If I hear a murmur about a doctor in a community in B.C. and it has to do with anything but cannabis, I can look it up immediately,” said Galt Wilson, senior deputy registrar responsible for the complaints and investigation department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. “But I can’t do that with cannabis.”