Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre became the first hospital in Canada to approve the use of medical marijuana after 650 council members voted unanimously in favor of a new policy.
On Thursday, the Quebec hospital announced its decision to allow the use of cannabis “in exceptional circumstances and under certain conditions.”
Patients must have a private room, a valid government authorization, and must supply their own government-approved marijuana and vaporizer.
“By law we are here to help to maintain and promote and heal patients. So in the process, if at one point marijuana has to be used, we should be there for the patient,” said Dr. Serge Lepage, President of the Sherbrooke Hospital’s Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CMDP).
According to the hospital, a review of the scientific evidence concluded that medical marijuana “may be helpful in relieving some symptoms such as pain, depressed mood, insomnia as well as nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.”
The decision comes after the late Charles Bury, former editor of the Sherbrooke Record, faced resistance from hospital administration over his use of medical marijuana to deal with the side effects of Stage 4 liver cancer.
While Bury’s palliative doctor, Dr. Carl Bromwych, had no issue with prescribing him the treatment, hospital administrators asked for the prescription to be withdrawn until an official policy could be established.
A working committee of doctors, pharmacists and ethicists was formed last January to investigate the issue.
“The CMDP has shown an openness of spirit with respect to patients’ needs,” Dr. Bromwych said of the hospital council’s decision. “Many patients have said simply that it’s better than whatever other drugs were being prescribed.”
The hospital says it will now work on implementing the new policy in the coming weeks.
Health Canada introduced a new program in April that is expected to lead to a dramatic rise in medical marijuana users over the coming years.[CBC News] [CTV News]