College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to review its medical marijuana policy

In Regulatory, Top Stories by David Silverberg

The regulatory body overseeing medical professionals in Ontario is asking for input on medical marijuana, and will soon review its current approach to the plant.

A new page on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario website asks for feedback on the group’s current policy and what amendments need to be made. As the page says, “…we are inviting feedback from all stakeholders, including members of the medical profession, the public, health system organizations and other health professionals on the current policy. Comments received during this preliminary consultation will assist the College in updating the policy.”

In an interview, CSPO senior communications coordinator Kathryn Clarke says the new policy will reflect how Health Canada is changing the medical marijuana program in the country. Starting April 1, 2014, doctors and nurse practitioners will be solely responsible for prescribing medical marijuana; also, approved patients will have to purchase the product from licensed firms, whereas earlier they could grow their own marijuana or purchase from dispensaries.

Earlier this year, the College expressed concerns with Health Canada’s amendment to Marihuana Medical Access Program. Essentially, they are worried about dried marijuana being the only available product to be smoked, and they stress how doctors will be the sole gatekeepers for the product and will thus be placed in a pressure-filled position when meeting with patients.

The statement ends: “Given the significance of concerns outlined above, the CSPO respectfully requests that Health Canada reconsider its approach to reforming the Marihuana Medical Access Program.”

Now, the College wants to change this policy. In particular, the College is interested to know:

    • Are there issues not addressed in the current policy that should be addressed?
      If so, what are they?
    • What other issues or information should the College bear in mind while undertaking this review?

CSPO is asking for feedback until February 7, 2014.

After feedback has been sent to CSPO, the College will analyze the comments and draft a new policy, Clarke says. “All our policies reflect the values and duties of medical professionalism,” she adds. The policies are not legally binding, though.