Proposed changes to Health Canada’s medical marijuana program would require information on all patients and doctors to be disclosed.
Announced last week, the new rules would force companies that sell medical marijuana to submit information about their patients’ medical documents — and the doctors that provided them — to provincial medical licensing bodies twice a year.
The aim is to protect the MMPR program against abuse and ensure that provincial bodies “have the ability to monitor for high dosages, multiple medical authorizations and multiple registrations with licensed producers, and can take appropriate action such as investigation, or discipline,” explains a Health Canada release.
Required information would include the practitioner’s name, address and professional licence number, daily quantity of marijuana supported, period of use, the date the document was issued, and basic patient information.
The MMPR amendments are open to public comment until July 13. The changes come as many colleges of physicians warn their members to think twice before participating in Health Canada’s new program.
Under regulations that took effect in April, doctors have been handed the responsibility of deciding who is eligible for medical marijuana. Patients must obtain a medical document, similar to a prescription, in order to purchase marijuana from one of 13 Licensed Producers.
But according to Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Hugo Francescutti, the CMA maintains the stance that “there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of marijuana for clinical purposes.”
“So if you are about to authorize access to marijuana you better really have the evidence that shows that it has some beneficial impact for your patient, because if something untoward happens you will be held to quite a high standard,” he warns.
Likewise, Health Canada states that it “does not endorse the use of marijuana” and offers no guidance on acceptable prescribing practices.
Already, a few doctors that were early adopters of the MMPR are reportedly under scrutiny by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
On the other hand, more than 5,000 patients have been enrolled in the new program since it began. Health Canada projects this number to reach 400,000 by 2024.
According to government figures, nearly 40,000 patients were registered under the old medical marijuana program with over 5,000 doctors — or 7% of physicians nationwide — providing support for their authorizations.