Though scientists who study cannabis, doctors and nurses who prescribe it, and pharmacists who provide it all gathered together for the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids — seemingly to pad their cannabis knowledge, to put it plainly — the group of intelligentsia made it clear that what they actually wanted was to get the herb back out of their hands once it’s legalized.
Dr. Jeff Blackmer of the Canadian Medical Association had this to say, “Our view is really that now that the government is obviously intending to legalize this, once this is a substance that’s available to all Canadians, there’s really no need for physicians to continue to serve in that gatekeeper role.”
And he’s right about the gatekeeper role no longer, or ever really, being necessary. But what about the medical roles? Shouldn’t doctors and nurse practitioners be educated enough about cannabis to recommend it to their patients who need medical marijuana in some capacity? Shouldn’t they know if a patient should take full plant extract or be vaping the oil?
In the U.S., doctors can’t be expected to discuss most of the aforementioned topics with their patients, as cannabis remains in the Schedule I category of drugs, meaning it’s federally illegal. Canada, however, has had fully legal medical cannabis in place since 2001. That seems plenty of time to brush up on the star plant of the last few decades.
A lack of high quality research is one of the reasons the Canadian Medical Association has said that its practitioners just aren’t comfortable writing prescriptions for pot, but as was also pointed out, there’s nothing keeping someone from asking their doctors medical based questions, no matter what substance it’s about.
James O’Hara is the president of Canadians For Fair Access to Medical Marijuana and sees this move by the Association as prejudiced. “There’s a lot of emotion behind that,” he explained, “[Patients] really want to talk to their doctors, because bottom line they want their doctors to care and have an interest in [them],” he said. “They do, but patients feel that there’s a bit of a dividing wall when it comes to medical cannabis.”
Perhaps the most concerning part about doctors not wanting to be involved is that it’s their interest in the medicinal properties of cannabis that often drives research.