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Medical marijuana could cut down on the use of addictive painkillers according to a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, but some of Vancouver’s best known researchers say reluctant doctors and a confused federal government are failing to act.
“When it comes to prescription marijuana, patients’ needs should be considered above political considerations,” said study co-author Dr. Julio Montaner of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “There could be great harm in ignoring the medical uses of marijuana.”
Study co-author Dr. Thomas Kerr says Canada is in the midst of an epidemic of opioid abuse and related overdose deaths, and that numerous studies have shown painkillers such as oxycontin are dangerous and prescribed too frequently.
Under Canada’s current medical marijuana laws patients must obtain prescription cannabis from federally licensed producers, generally through the mail. There are currently 26 licensed producers listed on Health Canada’s website.
Kerr says sending a prescription drug through the mail doesn’t make sense.
“It’s unfortunate that the federal government has really failed to deliver an effective medical-cannabis program and it’s
unfortunate that they’ve also misrepresented the science in this area,” he said.
Dr. Mark Ware of Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre researches cannabis for pain and prescribes it to his patients. He considers it unrealistic to demand clinical trials for a drug that is already used to treat many conditions.
?”I think it’s just unreasonable to expect that kind of level of data to be produced,” Ware said. “It sort of sets the whole thing up as an impossible target to meet.”