Article by Jason Viau, CBC News
A Windsor, Ont., doctor is urging his weed-wary colleagues to embrace marijuana as a bona fide pain treatment option because he is overwhelmed with patients seeking alternatives to addictive opioids.
Dr. Christopher Blue is also calling on governments and health-care insurers to ensure medical marijuana is covered under benefit programs because the cost will prevent potential patients from turning to it for pain management.
Blue is one of a few local doctors prescribing medical marijuana — other doctors refer patients to him — and a waiting list that was once two weeks has now stretched to eight months.
“Unfortunately, patients are having to wait, but I can’t do any more work,” said Blue. “I’m physically tapped out.”
Marijuana has ‘minimal’ risks
The volume of patients seeking marijuana for pain management has skyrocketed in the wake of the opioid epidemic — which has seen a spike in deaths and a crackdown on distribution. The result is that Blue’s cancer patients must now wait longer for an appointment to get pain medication.
“Trying to triage that is very difficult and it’s frustrating, not only for me but obviously for the patients,” said Blue.
Dr. Amit Bagga, president of the Essex County Medical Society, agreed the risks associated with marijuana are “minimal” compared to those for addictive opioids. He acknowledged that only “a relatively small number” of local doctors are prescribing marijuana and believes those numbers will grow over time as they become more familiar with the drug.