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Local doctors push for different approach to medical marijuana

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VANCOUVER – Two local leaders in HIV/AIDS research are breaking ranks from their medical association, calling for it to change its approach to medical marijuana.

The rules don’t rely on the most up-to-date science, according to Doctors Thomas Kerr and Julio Montaner with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

They argue pot can be just as effective in treating pain as other drugs, but it’s being held to a higher standard by the Canadian Medical Association.

Kerr says the federal government has failed to deliver an effective medical marijuana program. “And it’s unfortunate that they’ve also misrepresented the science in this area. Hopefully, we can have a more evidence-based discussion and a more evidence-based plan.”

He adds the system of sending medical pot by mail is strange.

“We would never do that in the case of treating someone with diabetes. Really, people should have access to experts who can counsel people on appropriate dosing, potential side effects and their management, and who can also provide other options and clinical follow-up. We don’t do this with other medications. Why we’re doing it with cannabis is beyond me.”

Kerr claims pot could be prescribed instead of drugs like oxycodone and morphine, which are contributing to overdoses.

The full editorial by Kerr, Montaner, and Student Research Assistant Stephanie Lake is published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Public Health.