According to the most recent Health Canada statistics, the number of Canadians registered to purchase medical marijuana from licensed producers has now skyrocketed. (All this since the federal commercial-access program started about four years ago).
As of Dec. 31, 129,876 Canadians had signed up with the country’s cannabis producers, a 32 per cent jump from the 98,460 registered at the end of September and there has been a 1,544 per cent increase from the 7,900 granted access to medicinal cannabis in mid-2014.
The upswing in demand has many wondering if all these patients have a legitimate medical need for the drug. Or are some people using the system to acquire recreational pot before it is legalized, as the Liberal government has said it will do by springtime?
Doctors say that cannabis is often perscribed for conditions like pain, weight loss from conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, nausea and hepatitis C. Now however, patients are asking for a variety of reasons including things like anxiety and depression where there really isn’t good data that it works for these conditions.
Dr. Jeff Blackmer, vice-president of medical professionalism for the Canadian Medical Association, said the spike in the number of people registered to purchase medical cannabis could be a reflection of doctors becoming more comfortable with prescribing the drug, coupled with growing patient demand.
Although he says that while some people seek a prescription for authentic health reasons, others likely simply want it for its euphoric effects.
While doctors aren’t prohibited from prescribing cannabis, the CMA opposes its use medicinally because of a lack of scientific evidence proving the drug is effective in treating specific conditions.
Looking to the Future:
The federal government has said it will introduce legalization legislation this spring, but it’s unknown how long it would actually take for such a bill to become law.
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