At one of the final sessions of the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association in Vancouver on Wednesday, delegates aired their concerns. Among them: the fact that a psychoactive drug is being legitimized to the point where the public thinks it’s a benign substance; the fact marijuana affects brain development, not just in the young but into the 60s; that there is no solid evidence it is safe and effective as a medical treatment so using the term medical marijuana is a misnomer.
Marijuana can be prescribed for medical purposes in Canada, but it is still illegal for recreational use although numerous doctors attending the conference commented on the ubiquitous smell of cannabis every time they went outside the Westin Bayshore where the annual meeting has been held. As one doctor noted, “It’s ironic we’re having a convention here in Vancouver — the cannabis capital of Canada — where there’s already a plethora of marijuana storefronts.”
Jeff Blackmer, the CMA vice-president of professional affairs, said after the feds announced plans to legalize marijuana, the CMA was asked to collect the views of the profession, so an electronic poll was recently done, eliciting nearly 800 responses. Poll findings include:
• Doctors think it’s a bad idea to have marijuana sold in pharmacies and they want the federal government to ensure the quantity of THC is labelled and even regulated.
• Sixty-five per cent of doctors disagree with mail service being used to distribute non medical marijuana, and 57 per cent disagree with pharmacies being used for distribution. Fifty-six per cent think existing non-health care structures like liquor stores should sell it and 47 per cent think legal storefronts (dispensaries) are suitable for the purpose.
• Doctors are equally split on whether people should be allowed to grow their own non-medical marijuana.
• Asked where people should be allowed to consume non-medical marijuana, 80 per cent said their homes, 36 per cent said designated public places and 43 per cent said wherever tobacco is permitted.
• Forty-five per cent of doctors said Canadians over the age of 21 should be able to buy legal marijuana and 35 per cent said the age should be 18 or 19.
• Seventy-two per cent said government should regulate THC levels in non-medical marijuana.