Some researchers, patient advocates and industry professionals say Canada needs to maintain a distinct medicinal cannabis system following legalization of marijuana for recreational use, despite the Canadian Medical Association’s position that doctors should no longer be gatekeepers.
“It is simply a reality now that cannabis is part of the medical landscape,” said James MacKillop, director of the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research and the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“I think we need to address that reality head-on as opposed to sort of walking away from the reality at this point.”
The Canadian Medical Association has said when pot becomes legal for recreational use on Oct. 17, two distinct systems for medicinal and recreational products will be unnecessary. The CMA says some of its members are uncomfortable prescribing cannabis due to a lack of high-quality research. Medical marijuana users require approval from a doctor before being allowed to order medical marijuana online from a government-licensed producer.
The CMA has made its position known in submissions to Health Canada, the House of Commons standing committee on health and the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation since 2016.
“There’s nothing to stop them from asking their doctor, ‘might it work for this condition,’ or ‘do you have any idea about what doses I should use,’ or these types of things,” Dr. Jeff Blackmer, vice-president of medical professionalism for the association, told CBC Calgary earlier this month.