Although some doctors remain uncertain about how to properly treat patients with medical marijuana, others are taking an inspired interest in developing alternative programs for people suffering from a variety of ailments simply because they believe weed is a safer alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
Canadian physician, Dr. Michael Hart, who has been recommending medical marijuana to his patients since the new federal program was launched earlier this year, says he prefers his patients use medical marijuana rather than powerful painkillers, like OxyContin.
“Opioids kill more people per year than all illegal drugs combined. Marijuana has never killed anybody,” he recently told The London Free Press.
Yet, despite the fact the Canadian government now permits physicians to write patients medical marijuana recommendations, several physicians organizations, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, have urged members not to prescribe marijuana due to the uncertainty over its risks and benefits.
Dr. Hart believes the overall sentiment towards marijuana as medicine has less to do with the medical community’s perception of the substance and more to do with the confusion surrounding how to use it effectively.
“I don’t think a lot of physicians are actually against medicinal marijuana,” he said. “Most are just unsure of how to prescribe it.”
However, Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, president of the Canadian Medical Association, believes the skepticism regarding medical marijuana is due to an overall lack of research.
“What we need is this drug to be tested just as vigorously as any other new drug that comes out on the market and for the federal government to step up to the plate and provide the funding to do those studies,” he told Hospital News. “If the evidence is there, then I don’t think the profession would have any problems getting behind it. Doctors are not very keen to prescribe with a blindfold on.”
Hart says even without clinical data, he is convinced that recommending medical marijuana as an alternative to painkillers is better for his patients. It is for this reason that he dedicates one day per week assisting new and existing patients with cannabis care options. “I feel comfortable prescribing it because it’s safer than just about every other medicine I prescribe,” he added.
What do you think? Should doctors recommend medical marijuana?