While Health Canada has delegated responsibility to physicians to recommend the use of cannabis for access to their legal program, it has clearly abdicated its responsibility to educate doctors to ensure their medical opinion is more informed than that of Dr Vroom [Medical marijuana. BCMJ 2010;52:329].
As a result, Dr Vroom is not alone is his lack of knowledge about the medical use of cannabis. During our many years working and conducting research at both the British Columbia Compassion Club Society and the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, we have heard the other side of doctor-patient dynamic that Dr Vroom describes.
Many patients report having an extremely difficult time obtaining support from their physicians for the use of this medicine, or even discussing this legitimate health option. This deeply affects the doctor-patient relationship, causing patients unnecessary stress and creating an atmosphere of shame and distrust. Sadly, many patients find themselves in the role of having to educate their doctors.
Cannabis is a legal therapy option officially sanctioned by the federal government. It is not a physician’s role to decide what is or isn’t a medicine, but rather to discuss the suitability of treatment options on a case-by-case basis.
In a previous editorial, Dr Vroom stated, “I am not afraid to keep an open mind about remedies I know nothing about, but I research their scientific evidence.” Dr Vroom seems to be making an exception for medical cannabis.
Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published on the use of cannabis to treat many different conditions and symptoms—as both symptom relief for conditions like chronic pain and to slow disease progression.
For starters, we suggest that Dr Vroom might check out the Canadians for Safe Access (CSA) research page (http://safeaccess.ca/research/), or consider attending an upcoming accredited course by the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (www.ccic.net/registeronline).
—Rielle Capler, MHA
—Philippe Lucas, MA
Co-founders, Canadians for Safe Access
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