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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: OPED: We Are Not 'Pot Doctors'
Title:CN BC: OPED: We Are Not 'Pot Doctors'
Published On:2012-01-31
Source:Chilliwack Times (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-02-03 06:02:15

I would like to clarify a few issues regarding the Health Canada
Medicinal Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR) program.

Physicians do not "prescribe pot." Every Canadian citizen qualifies
automatically for MMAR if they meet the Health Canada criteria-anyone
providing evidence of a qualifying condition, and/or anyone who's
been to a specialist for their condition. This has nothing to do with
the doctor's views on the matter-patients either qualify or they do not.

Doctors authorize for MMAR by filling out forms declaring that the
patient has the condition. This automatically authorizes the patient
to possess and grow marihuana.

The patient instructs the doctor as to the daily quantity and method
by which they consume marihuana. This is much different than a
physician prescribing a medication-where the doctor instructs the patient.

Although above the B.C. average, Chilliwack doctors underauthorize
for patients needing MMAR. According to the World Drug Report issued
by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (2007), 16.8 per cent of
Canadians, ages 15 to 64, smoked or ingested cannabis in 2006. It
follows that out of 69,217 residents in Chilliwack, 11,628 would be
users. Daily users are usually self-medicating for a range of
conditions from depression to severe arthritis pain to cancer.

In my large 4,500-patient practice, about 200 qualify for MMAR.
Extrapolating from this, over 3,000 in Chilliwack could require
access to medicinal marihuana and are not receiving the care they require.

It is not about joints or THC. In cannabis, THC is only one of over
60 cannabinoids (natural medicinal chemicals). THC gets the user
'stoned' when it is heated (smoked or cooked). Cannabidiol (CBD) is a
pain-fighting, anti-inflammatory cannabinoid that gives no high and
can mitigate the euphoric effects of THC. THC is not active in its
raw form whereas CBD is.

Patients with larger gardens are usually ingesting, not smoking.
People using medicinal marihuana are almost always ingesting it -in
baking, tea, or juice-versus smoking it. A single joint may contain
0.5 to 1 gram of cannabis. A serving of raw, juiced marihuana (think
Booster Juice wheatgrass shot) requires tens of grams of raw, green
bud to produce. From a doctor's perspective, juice or tea is
preferable to smoking.

It is wrong to contend that a patient with a "120 light grow-op," is
smoking it. I have explained this to the mayor and others during a
November 2011 meeting held to discuss ramifications of MMAR.

A physician's duty: "First, do no harm." Physicians prescribe highly
addictive morphine derivatives-extreme adverse effects, high
street-value and deadly in overdose. If a patient is denied their
right to access MMAR then they are forced to choose between
suffering, taking dangerous narcotics or the anxiety of criminalized
use. Families are drawn into gang violence associated with black
market drug production.

Physicians and police are beginning to recognize the great harm to
individuals and society that comes from unscientific drug policies.
Physicians authorizing marihuana use are not 'pot doctors,' they're
compassionate doctors who care about patients and society. Physicians
practising legal medicine need to be free from pressure instigated by
politicians that impedes patients from accessing required care.
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