One Ontario doctor is trying to backpedal her way out of a disparaging comment she made about cannabis mere days before legalization goes into effect. President of the Ontario Medical Association, Dr. Nadia Alam, walked back her suggestion that cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs, saying “What I would say is that I misspoke, I misunderstood,” to CBC News.
On Saturday Alam woke up to a whole lotta haters after a London Morning segment aired on Thursday, touting Alam’s said stance on recreational cannabis. The doctor apologized in a Tweet, saying, “I apologize. I misspoke. Recreational cannabis is NOT a gateway drug. I thank my colleagues for correcting me. Decriminalization & harm reduction create safer, healthier communities. Illness should be treated without stigma.”
The doctor patient relationship in Canada is still on shaky ground when it comes to cannabis. In a Nanos study commissioned by OMA, a whopping 53 percent of Canadians said that they weren’t comfortable bringing up cannabis to their doctors. That’s a lot of people, considering that Canada has had legal medical marijuana since 2001 and is now legalizing period.
Canadian cannabis activist Jodie Emery said that misinformation like the gateway theory can only hurt her fellow citizens. “When doctors spread this kind of fear about cannabis being a gateway drug to harder drugs, they’re perpetuating the ‘reefer madness’ we’re supposed to be moving away from,” she stated.
Emery also believes that the stigma will fall away with the passage of time. “The stigma will start to break down and that is a net benefit, but people still need to be aware there is still a lot of stigma, still a lot of discrimination.”
The cannabis-focused Dr. Michael Verbora said that Alam was working off of out of date information. He said there was a common reticence about cannabis in the medical realm. “Cannabis is so stigmatized and that’s just because in the medical community, the way we talk about it, the way we educate on it, we only talk about the harms and we don’t talk about the benefits.”
In the way of example, Verbora pointed out that there is now 20 years worth of research on the endocannabinoid system, but the information still isn’t being taught at medical schools. The endocannabinoid system is a sweeping set of receptors that allow cannabis to do whatever job needs doing, from being an anti-inflammatory to stimulating the appetite, and it’s another reason why the latest education needs to become common knowledge, and the sooner the better.