New cannabis rules flummox Sask. doctors

New cannabis rules flummox Sask. doctors

The people who regulate Saskatchewan doctors wonder if they should step in where the federal government has stepped back from monitoring medical marijuana.The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan’s lawyer and assistant registrar recommended Friday the college’s governing council consider making new rules about how the province’s doctors handle requests for the drug.“I guess the concern is that we know that there are people — maybe not in Saskatchewan, but in other places — who have become the marijuana doctors. That’s certainly what has happened in some of the places in the United States where you come in, you plunk down your money, and as long as you can portray any sort of plausible condition, you get your prescription. (That) isn’t a healthy thing to have happen,” Bryan Salte said earlier this week.The college could consider requiring doctors to document all their marijuana prescriptions, Salte said. He also suggested council prevent doctors from selling marijuana, and refrain from investing in suppliers. Both prescribing and profiting from medical marijuana could put doctors in a conflict of interest, he said.But the doctors and public members around the college council’s table had more questions about the implications of Health Canada’s new rules than suggestions about what to do with them.Previously, patients who wanted marijuana for a specific health condition would need the authorization of a doctor, then Health Canada’s approval to either grow their own plants, buy from an approved supplier, or have a friend grow the plants for them.As of Oct. 1, Salte said, the onus is all on doctors to prescribe marijuana, with no restrictions by medical condition. Willing doctors can write a prescription to last up to a year. Health Canada will only inspect and license approved growers.As of August, nearly 22,000 Canadians were authorized to possess marijuana for medical reasons.Organizations like the Canadian Medical Association and the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada unsuccessfully fought the changes earlier this year.It’s “hard to put the genie back in the bottle,” Salte said.The college would be wise to update its guidelines and introduce new rules before a questionable scenario comes to its attention, he added.“I do think Saskatchewan physicians are going to be looking for something from us,” college President Dr. Mark Chapelski said. “They’re going to be looking for some guidance.”Salte said he doesn’t know of any other provinces restricting doctors’ cannabis prescribing in the wake of the changes.“A couple of other colleges have said they want to stay away from this completely. We’re not so sure that’s the right approach,” he said.Council member Dr. Oluwole Oduntan said even if doctors kept records of their prescriptions, the college wouldn’t know if the information was accurate.Salte said failing to keep proper records could be considered professional misconduct, so a doctor would be sanctioned if caught.Drugs of potential abuse are currently tracked in Saskatchewan through the Prescription Review Program. That won’t work for marijuana, because pharmacists don’t dispense it.Regina orthopod Dr. Alan Beggs said patients ask him for marijuana “weekly,” but he doesn’t prescribe it. He questioned whether a doctor’s prescribing records could be checked with drug testing, which might deter doctors from prescribing it at all.Several doctors had questions about whether they are legally required to prescribe marijuana under the new federal rules.College registrar Dr. Karen Shaw said the college’s current policy advises doctors to base their treatment on scientific evidence, and “there’s no evidence to consider (prescribing medical marijuana) is evidence-based practice.”Council members opted to strike a committee, which will meet within a few weeks, then make recommendations about what, if any, actions the college should take. They’ll revisit the issue in November.source:

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