More MS news articles for May 2001

Proposed regulations for pot put doctors in an awkward position: association

Monday May 7 1:09 PM EST

TORONTO (CP) - Proposed regulations giving doctors discretion in prescribing marijuana for medical use, also put them in an awkward position, says the Canadian Medical Association.

In a draft unveiled in April, the regulations propose medical doctors decide who gets marijuana and how much. "It's going to be difficult for us to come up with standards for prescribing it and indeed, for even deciding who should get it ... and yet people will always want it. It's going to be putting us in a very awkward position," said Dr. Peter Barrett, president of the association.

Interested parties have until Monday to make submissions on Health Canada's regulations on medical access to marijuana, but Barrett said the medical association is not finished considering all medical and ethical aspects of the issue.

The federal government plans to make marijuana available to approved patients, or allow them to grow their own.

Barrett says doctors are concerned about there being little control on potency.

"What's the effective dose and will the patient get the dose you prescribe? That's our big concern, how do you standardize the dose?"

Neeve Tapiero of the lobby group Cannabis As Living Medicine says it is difficult for terminally and chronically ill people to get marijuana from many doctors.

"A whole lot of doctors, they're not filling out exemption forms because they don't want to get involved in marijuana," said Tapiero. "They don't know anything about marijuana and there's a stigmatization."

Ottawa says it will enact final regulations July 15, the date by which the Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal government to establish a regulatory framework.

Ottawa has already granted 180 licences for terminally-ill people to possess and grow marijuana.

The draft regulations list three categories of illness for which a doctor may prescribe marijuana, including terminal cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and severe arthritis.

Nausea, pain and adverse reactions to other drugs are cited as symptoms for which a doctor may prescribe marijuana where other drugs or therapies are ineffective.

(Toronto Sun)