CANADA: The College of Family Physicians of Canada has created new guidelines to help doctors determine if and when a patient should have access to marijuana to treat chronic pain or anxiety.
The college’s recommendations advise doctors to only approve access to medical marijuana for treatment of pain in patients who haven’t responded to other treatments, and say it is not appropriate for people under 25, those with a personal or family history of psychosis and those with a substance abuse disorder. The recommendations also say medical marijuana is not appropriate therapy for insomnia or anxiety.
The document was created to address the predicament doctors face because of new rules that make them responsible for approving access to medical marijuana despite the fact it has not been studied in-depth by Health Canada or approved for therapeutic purposes. A court ruling requires the department to provide access to medical marijuana when authorized by a physician. The challenge for doctors is that no comprehensive, systematic scientific evidence has been conducted to determine how effective medical marijuana is, what conditions it helps with, and who can best benefit from it.
“Physicians are in a difficult situation with a product that remains illegal in Canada and yet for which they are now asked to actually be the prescriber of this substance,” said Francine Lemire, CEO of the college.