Article by Judith Stamps, Daily Hive
On April 5, 2018, a meeting of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) was shaken by a minor revolt.
Dr. Jeff Blackmer, speaking for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), stated that post-legalization, there should be no need for a separate medical cannabis program in Canada. Dr. Mark Ware, speaking for the CCIC, disagreed. In his view, clinical oversight of patients will always remain essential.
This stark opposition might have started a useful conversation. Instead, participants booed Blackmer’s comments, and Blackmer walked out, highlighting a doctor-cannabis animosity that has become too familiar. What went wrong? And what could they have talked about?
We should recall that the medical cannabis program in Canada is no one’s master plan. It was built by government reactions to a series of activist-patient arrests, and subsequent charter challenges that ran from 1998 to 2015. Courts in Canada have consistently upheld Canadian patients’ rights to consume cannabis if they believed that it was helping them. Both federal Liberals and Conservatives have responded by providing access to cannabis, but only on the condition that patients get their doctors to sign official recommendations.
No one asked the doctors if they wanted to participate.
Few doctors were educated on cannabis-based medicines and few had learned about the body’s endocannabinoid system. The court challenges featured expert witnesses on cannabis medicine. Health Canada (HC) could have called on them to help train Canadian doctors.