The following list was based on emailed questions and stories sent to Dr. Mark Ware during the period November 2003- February 2009. In addition we asked for FAQs from Health Canada’s Medical Marijuana Access Program.
Total number of emails to Dr. Ware: 44
Number of emails from physicians: 9
Number of emails from the public: 35
We have recieved the following questions and will be continuously providing responses. Please check back for updates. If you have any other questions please send them to us: Ask the CCIC
Questions about the CCIC
Please advise where the CCIC obtains the information for their seminars.
Information is obtained from publicly available scientific and medical publications, reviewed and accredited.
Is the information in the seminar something prepared/determined by them or a third party?
The CCIC prepares its own information. We commissioned a graphic artist to do some artwork for the posters and slides.
Have they done any testing themselves in the past?
Some CCIC members have been and are involved in cannabinoid research.
Do they currently counsel anyone using the cannabinoids?
No. We aim to educate the health care professionals and to promote reserach on cannabinoids. We provide links to drug formulary information on prescription cannabinoids.
Is the CCIC in any way involved in the distributing or helping others obtain cannabinoids?
No. We only provide links to Health Canada sites for information on how to apply for authorization on medical marijuana.
Questions about Health Canada's Marijuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR)
What is the MMAR program?
The Medical Marijuana Access Regulations provide for the legal possession and growing of marijuana (cannabis) for patients who find it beneficial for relief of various symptoms. It is a program administered by Health Canada, and has been in existence since 1999.
Isn't marijuana a drug of abuse?
Many therapeutic medications have the potential for misuse and abuse, and marijuana is no exception. However, marijuana has been used by humans for thousands of years for the relief of pain and for other medical conditions. Tincture of cannabis was a standard in the pharmacopoeia until the early 20th century (as was tincture of opium), until politics pushed it out of pharmacies and onto the streets. Today, approximately 4500 Canadians have obtained a Health Canada license to use marijuana, and there are thousands more who are using it for medicinal purposes despite not being licensed.
Is there any evidence that marijuana is an effective medication?
Yes. Research on cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system has exploded in recent years. Marijuana has shown efficacy for the nausea and anorexia associated with cancer chemotherapy and HIV chemotherapy, as well as for the pain associated with spinal cord injury, severe arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Epilepsy and glaucoma are two other common diagnoses for which marijuana has shown benefit. Marijuana and its derivatives is part of the therapeutic armamentarium in palliative care. There are now three commercially available preparations derived from marijuana which are available from pharmaceutical companies.
Does the College of Physicians oppose the MMAR?
Provincial regulatory bodies have stated that doctors do not have to authorize marijuana access if they do not feel comfortable with it.
Does the Canadian Medical Association oppose the MMAR?
You may be recalling earlier statements by the Canadian Medical Association that marijuana has no proven benefit. However, in light of recent research, they have modified this statement to recommend that doctors prescribe marijuana to appropriate patients if they feel qualified to do so.
Authorizing the MMAR for a patient.
As with any medication, the physician is in the best position to assess whether his patient has a legitimate medical diagnosis, and is attaining benefit from a given therapy. Ongoing assessment of benefit would be part of the process. In light of the new research and evidence, it could be considered as a therapy for those suffering with chronic pain and other conditions, especially if standard therapies were not effective or tolerated.
Questions from physicians
- Where can I find information on cannabinoids?
- Where can I find information on therapeutic uses of cannabis?
- Can I prescribe cannabis?
- What cannabinoid products are available in Canada?
- What are the advantages of Sativex versus nabilone?
- Is a Health Canada exemption advisable if there are commercial pharmacotherapies available?
- Where can I find advice on the use of cannabinoids, when is it appropriate for symptom control?
- Where can I get help deciding the appropriateness of a patient for cannabis access?
- What are the risk factors of authorizing cannabis?
- Will discontinuation of therapeutic cannabis use lead to withdrawal symptoms?
- Which mode of delivery of THC is appropriate?
- What are some of the alternatives for chronic pain treatment?
- What are the antiproliferative effects of THC?
- How do I estimate cannabis doses?
Questions from the public
- Can a Doctor prescribe medical marijuana?
- How can I find a Doctor who will sign the MMAR for me?
- How can I participate in clinical trials of cannabinoids?
Cannabinoid beneficial effects
- Can cannabinoids be used for people who do not respond well to narcotics?
- Will using cannabinoids to treat pain decrease dependence on morphine?
- How do cannabinoids affect appetite, increase or decrease it?
Cannabinoid side effects
- What are the side effects of smoking herbal cannabis?
- Can you administer herbal cannabis through other means than smoking?
- Is herbal cannabis an allergen?