Use of dried cannabis for medical purposes
The new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations came into effect on April 1, 2014. To assist its members in complying with the regulations and to ensure patient safety, the Collège des médecins du Québec produces guidelines.
Any physician who wishes to familiarize himself with the new framework for prescribing cannabis must read the document Guidelines concerning the prescription of dried cannabis for medical purposes in full. A summary is provided below.
- The use of dried cannabis for medical purposes is not a recognized treatment.
- An unrecognized treatment can only be used within a research framework.
- As of April 1, 2014 and until further notice, only certain indications will have to be considered.
- Before considering the use of dried cannabis to treat a medical condition provided for in the previous regulations, other therapeutic options must be considered, in particular other forms of cannabinoids authorized for prescription by Health Canada.
- A physician who is asked to prescribe dried cannabis must read the medical literature and inform his patient that dried cannabis can only be prescribed within the framework of a research project; and that the patient must purchase it from a producer authorized by Health Canada.
- Before prescribing dried cannabis, the physician must obtain the written consent of the patient participating in a research project (consent form) and carry out a complete medical assessment.
- When a physician prescribes dried cannabis, he must plan the patient’s follow-up and keep a register of all patients for whom he has prescribed dried cannabis.
- A physician may not supply the patient directly with dried cannabis or deal in cannabis or cannabinoids.
- A physician may not become or apply to become a cannabis producer.
- The prescribing physician must collaborate with the Collège and its partners in the collection of scientific data in order to improve knowledge and practices with respect to the use of cannabis for medical purposes and to ensure patient safety.
Research projects underway in Quebec
Many research projects are currently underway in Quebec. A physician who is considering prescribing dried cannabis must keep a register of the patients concerned so that they can be invited to participate in the research project if they wish to do so.
Among the research projects currently underway in Quebec:
Project title: “Quebec Cannabis Register: A Research Database on the Use of Dried Cannabis for Medical Purposes”
Lead investigator: Dr. Marc A. Ware, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC)
The CMQ supports this research project. While allowing the physician to comply with his professional ethics, this initiative should make it possible to:
- systematically collect data across Quebec on the indications, dosages, benefits or side effects of the products used;
- develop future research;
- ensure safer access to products, since the research database will be used in the development of a drug monitoring program.
For information about this project, consult the Quebec registry Web page.
You may also read the press release issued by the The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) on May 11, 2015.
A lot of information is provided on Health Canada’s Web site:
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