Doctors for Responsible Access
Doctors for Responsible Access is a growing association of Physicians and Nurse Practitioners who believe medical practitioners have an important role to play in cannabis legalization. We are independent of any commercial interests.
Our mission is to support responsible access to cannabis in light of legalization in Canada.
Our goal is to ensure that legalization ultimately protects the health of all Canadians and fosters the required research. Our focus is on youth and those experiencing mental illness. We want to make sure that legalization sends the right message.
Our plan is to advocate for an informed medical perspective on cannabis legalization, by engaging physicians and nurse practitioners, and to eventually develop the necessary support systems that enable health practitioners to provide the best patient care possible.
The Opportunity For Input Into Cannabis Legalization
The Government of Canada is committed to legalize cannabis for recreational use. It has promised to strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis (marijuana).
The Government created the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation to make recommendations on the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. The Task Force accepted input from the public and stakeholder communities until August 29, 2016 and has provided formal recommendations to the Government by November 30, 2016. Read the full report here.
The Government also introduced the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which came into effect on August 24, 2016. The ACMPR replaces the former Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR), and includes provisions for personal cultivation of cannabis, allowing patients with a prescription for medical cannabis to grow cannabis for their own medical use.
National Physician Survey – Preliminary Results
Doctors for Responsible Access has been surveying physicians and nurse practitioners across Canada.
- 61% of respondents have been practicing medicine for more than 20 years
- 82% of those who do prescribe cannabis report prescribing it for chronic, non-cancer pain (excluding neuropathic), as the leading condition for prescribing
- 75% report prescribing 1-3 grams per day; 44% generally set restrictions in the THC level, most commonly between 10-15%
- 81% of DRA physicians surveyed are concerned about the overlap between medical and recreational use
- 92% agree a Public Health approach is required
- 98% agree that greater physician support and education are required
- 98% say they would take advantage of opportunities for professional education and collaboration
- 62% recommend that legal access to cannabis for recreational use should be set at 21 years of age or older
Recommendations to The Task Force on Legalization for Recreational Use
Doctors for Responsible Access provided recommendations to the federal Task Force, advocating for:
Active support of physicians and nurse practitioners practicing in this new field
Provisions in the legislation prioritizing the protection of public health
Our recommendations were based on the following Principles
- That there are both significant benefits and harms associated with the use of cannabis and further research is required.
- That traditional research models may be too limiting and not easily applicable to Cannabis. Other models need to be considered as the medical profession and regulators seek to establish evidence-based guidelines, policies and standards.
- That technology based solutions are required to reduce the administrative burdens experienced by cannabis practitioners and patients, and to better enable ongoing evaluation and research.
- That a public health approach encompassing both medical and recreational use of cannabis is required.
- That physician support, education and involvement are crucial if physicians are to be part of the solution, ultimately protecting public health.
- That access to cannabis by at-risk populations should include additional requirements or restrictions aimed at reducing risk (for example, mandatory education or smaller quantities for youth under 25 years of age).
- That regulations and solutions must be realistic and practical, if they are to be effective. They must be able to evolve as new evidence emerges and the legal and socio-political environments continue to shift.