President's Message

Kathy Lawrence, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Medical marijuana - relatively uncharted waters

Many physicians in Canada, and particularly family physicians, have been placed in a difficult situation by the recent legislative changes that have occurred around medical marijuana. Whatever personal opinions one might hold about the regulation of this substance, physicians have found themselves in the middle of relatively uncharted waters. They have been asked to prescribe something for which there are a lot of claims of efficacy but not much guidance on where there is benefit or harm. For instance, in many jurisdictions there have been clear messages from licensing authorities about how one should prescribe and track prescriptions. Yet, there has been little useful guidance on how to make decisions with patients about when it might be appropriate to consider using medical marijuana to treat their condition.

This spring, members from several program committees of the Section of Family Physicians with Special Interests or Focused Practices (SIFP) (Maternity and Newborn Care, Addiction, Chronic Pain, Palliative Care, Child and Adolescent Health, and Mental Health) collaborated to develop a document to provide some guidance on when and how to prescribe medical marijuana, and when not to. Check for the document on the CFPC website in early July.

I believe that the SIFP committees play an important and valuable role within the College and, in the instance of medical marijuana, they have produced a piece of information that could be beneficial to all members. Thank you to the SIFP representatives who contributed to the development of the medical marijuana guidelines. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

To all College members, I hope you find this to be a valuable tool for guiding our thinking and the advice we share with patients about this complex area.

Kathy Lawrence, MD, CCFP, FCFP
CFPC President

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