CANADA: Earlier this year, the legislative framework surrounding the provision of medical marijuana in Canada underwent significant change. On April 1, 2014, for-profit corporations who have been granted license by the government assumed responsibility for growing and dispensing prescribed medical marijuana.
Physicians, who are charged with assessing the appropriateness of dried marijuana for their patients and writing the “medical document” which must be presented to these licensed producers in order to procure the product, have been thrust into the role of gatekeeper. As they are learning, it’s a particularly onerous gate.
Aside from having to grapple with the ethical and legal concerns involved in prescribing an illegal substance, physicians who prescribe medical marijuana are also expected to perform demanding and time-consuming services for the corporations who profit from its sale. The physicians receive nothing in return.
The additional workload associated with prescribing medical marijuana is partially buried under a cloak of semantics. Take, for example, the “medical document” that physicians must complete in order to authorize patient access to dried marijuana. According to a draft policy statement published by The College of Physicians and Surgeons, “Physicians enable patients to access a legal supply of dried marijuana by completing a medical document that functions like a conventional prescription.” However, ask a physician who has begun prescribing medical marijuana and you will learn that this medical document is anything but a conventional prescription.