More on marijuana

Readers should be careful not to mistake Dr Vroom’s lack of knowledge about the medical use of cannabis with a lack of available information (BCMJ 2010;52:436).

The website for the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Can­nabinoids (, an organization of Canadian physicians and researchers examining the therapeutic potential of cannabis, and that of Canadians for Safe Access (, a medical cannabis patient advisory group, have dozens of recent peer-reviewed publications. 

If Dr Vroom would prefer more traditional research sites, PubMed lists more than 12000 studies on “cannabis” and more than 15000 studies on “marijuana.”

The fact that cannabis has an ex­cellent reputation as a recreational drug in no way negates the evidence of the efficacy and relative safety of its medical use. 

That cannabis has been in use as a medicine for thousands of years hardly makes it experimental. Dr Vroom’s apparent difficulty in accepting that cannabis is a medicine highlights the barriers faced by patients seeking not only relief of symptoms such as MS-related spasticity, but also support for adherence to pharmaceutical drugs for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, or to reduce their use of opioid analgesics for chron­ic pain.

Dr Vroom is simply wrong in claiming that Health Canada created “medical marijuana” to address pressure from advocacy groups: the Supreme Court of Canada found the prosecution of patients who gain medical benefit from cannabis use to be unconstitutional.

What we can all agree on is that Health Canada’s federal medical can­nabis program has done little to address the many questions and concerns physicians may have about this treatment option despite having placed physicians as gatekeepers to this program.

Adding to the existing stigma around this treatment option by discouraging his patients to even inquire about cannabis is an ill-considered and inappropriate response to the very real medical issues faced by critically and chronically ill Canadians.
—Philippe Lucas, MA 
—Rielle Capler, MHA
Co-founders, Canadians for Safe Access

Phillipe Lucas,, Rielle Capler, MHA,. More on marijuana . BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 3, April, 2011, Page(s) 112 - Letters.

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