BIG PHARMA MARIJUANA - Part 2 - Prescription procedure
MED-MAR: ISN'T IT IRONIC?
Medical marijuana, the new cash crop on the block, was created by a change in regulations which allows for cannabis to be grown, distributed and prescribed legally. Its futures look bright. In fact, opportunities of this breadth don't knock every day. Which is why Water Today is looking into it further. Will this bankable new crop be cultivated with the utmost care for our environment? Will Health Canada's strict water and wastewater regulations be respected? Or will cutting corners and profiteering win the day as they are wont to do?
In part one of our series we looked into the regulatory framework on which medical marijuana is built. Part 2 explores the ins and outs of getting a prescription to use it; after all no licensed users, no industry.
What we learned so far is that compassionate doctors are not easy to find, that like in any new scheme, opportunists are lurking, and that the deal's inherent dichotomy boggles the mind.
In fact, it's hard not to hear Alanis Morisette's "Ironic' playing in the back of your mind, when it comes to medical marijuana and the government's MMPR regulations. Hard to miss the irony. Essentially, with the MMPR, Health Canada is setting up the basis of a billion dollar industry on a substance it considers illegal, and the use of which it does not endorse. Perhaps it was the only way out of the mess created by the previous MMAR regulations which, by allowing licensed patients to grow their own medical marijuana or purchase it from small-scale producers, played right into the hands of those used to gaming the system.
With the enactment of the MMPR on April 1, 2013, Health Canada not only rid itself of the administrative headache of issuing permits to individuals licensed to possess cannabis for medicinal purposes – currently 37,000 Canadians - but passed the burden on to Canadian doctors. Now it is the physicians who are the gatekeepers of the substance, asked to
provide patients with the legal use of an illegal substance.
Trouble is this is no run of the mill oxycontin prescription we're dealing with here. Cannabis being an illegal substance, there is very little scientific information to guide physicians as to the strain or dosage to prescribe. Not to mention all the paperwork involved. So, many physicians just throw their hands up and refuse to write medical marijuana prescriptions altogether.
Enter the middleman. Eager to fill this void, MMPR clinics are indeed popping up across the land like mushrooms. For fees ranging from $250 to over $500, these outfits offer a range of services culminating in a doctor's referral either by Skype or in person. Meanwhile, patients in need are left searching for a compassionate doctor, as a whole industry of licensed producers gets rich off the spoils of an illegal drug....
Hard to miss the irony... like a no-smoking sign on your cigarette break.
A list of doctors who agree to write medical marijuana prescriptions can easily be found on the web. We contacted a few of them, only Dr. Peter Gooch, agreed to talk to us on the record.
Related Medical Marijuana Articles
MED-MAR - Part 1 -: How to do business in medical marijuana like big pharma
MED-MAR OP/Ed: a looking glass into the future
MED-MAR - Part 2: The art of legally prescribing an illegal drug
MED-MAR - Op/Ed: Isn't it ironic?
MED-MAR - Part 3: Medical marijuana, food, and the final frontier
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