More MS news articles for Feb 2002

Saskatchewan doctors told to use caution in prescribing medical marijuana

Tuesday February 19 11:16 PM EST

SASKATOON (CP) - Saskatchewan's College of Physicians and Surgeons is urging doctors to be cautious in prescribing medical marijuana. "We would encourage physicians to be cautious in relation to any new form of therapy for which there is, frankly, very little evidence in regards to its safety and effectiveness for medical purposes," college spokesman Dr. Dennis Kendel said Tuesday.

Kendel said there have been few long-term studies done on pot, so possible complications associated with its extended use are unknown.

Traditionally when a new drug is launched, it would go through years of testing and observation to determine what sort of dosages work most effectively and what the side effects are, he noted.

"That just hasn't happened with marijuana."

The college's medical marijuana policy also wants doctors to be prepared to provide documentation acknowledging that patients have been informed that the long-term complications associated with chronic marijuana use are unknown.

The college also expects physicians to document why they chose to prescribe pot, as well as an inventory of the drugs and procedures previously tried and the reason for their failure.

New federal regulations which came into force last summer allow certain patients with chronic or terminal illnesses to apply to Health Canada for permission to use marijuana.

The regulations apply to patients who have less than a year to live and those suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, severe arthritis or epilepsy.

Timothy Hampton, Saskatchewan president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, estimates marijuana could help the conditions of about 5,000 Saskatchewan patients.

"People have a tendency to pick and choose their studies no matter which side they're on," he said. "I would suggest that doctors would be well-served to make up their own minds just like everybody else ... instead of listening to the propaganda issued by various bureaucratic bodies."

Copyright © 2002 Canadian Press