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Cannabis Resources for Physicians in Canada

Cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in Canada since 2001, when individuals with certain illnesses such as HIV/AIDS were authorized to grow their own marijuana or obtain it from authorized producers or Health Canada. This was a relatively small number of Canadians who had the legal right to possess the drug.

As of October 17, 2018, cannabis became legal across the country to unquestionably mixed reviews. The benefits of marijuana use were touted, as were the drawbacks. 

And just like that, the medical landscape had changed. With marijuana becoming legal recreationally, patients were now more inclined to feel comfortable talking to physicians about their use and ask for advice. 

The need to establish evidence-based guidelines to assist physicians in optimizing patient care was urgent and of the upmost importance. 

The medical community has swept into action to provide resources for physicians now requiring significant knowledge on cannabis and its many forms, and also on its interactions with individual medications. 

Most medical regulatory authorities in Canada consistently state that more information is required on the medical risks and therapeutic benefits of cannabis. 

The list and resources will continue to grow as more research and studies are conducted, and easily accessible, current and relevant information remains a top request from physicians.

These are some excellent starting points for accessing information on cannabis, medical marijuana, and the regulations surrounding cannabis for medical purposes. Each provincial medical regulatory authority (College) has guidelines and policies that you can access as well.

Regulations under the Cannabis Act set out the rules and standards that apply to the production, distribution, sale, importation and exportation of cannabis by federal licence holders. 

The set of regulations that most pertains to physicians is called the Cannabis Regulations as it is the outlines the legalities governing medical cannabis. 

Physicians are guided and encouraged to become familiar with the Cannabis Regulations, and also to know and follow the guidelines and policies set out by their provincial college.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) has a dedicated a section of their website to Cannabis Resources for Family Physicians.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has a dedicated cannabis section on their website that has detailed information and sources for use. They have a Cannabis for Medical Purposes Policy outlined here as well.

The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) outlines its advice on cannabis for medical purposes in its Medical Cannabis: Considerations for Canadian Doctors article that is cited as a resource by many of the provincial colleges.

The Government of Canada released a document called Information for Health Care Professionals: Cannabis (marihuana, marijuana) and the cannabinoids to provide information on the use of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical purposes. 

Health Canada also has a fantastic repository of resources called Cannabis in Canada: Get the Facts

Physicians are advised that they should not feel obligated to complete the medical document for medical cannabis when they are unfamiliar with its use or management, and can feel confident that they can contact their provincial college and the CMPA for advice at any time. 

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Saturday, 11 July 2020