Medical marijuana policies under fire by top BC doctors

published on October 9, 2015 in CBC News

Rigid rules around medical marijuana leading to more prescription opioid use and abuse

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 BC 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.

At the same time there is strong evidence showing that prescription cannabis can be as effective in controlling pain in some cases, but with far less risk.

“If we can enhance access to medicinal cannabis for the right conditions it may have the positive effect of reducing prescription opioid misuse and the associated overdose epidemic,” says Kerr.

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