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CAN: Licensing open to abuse: Ottawa

CAN: Licensing open to abuse: Ottawa
VancouverSun / Thandi Fletcher / 12,17.2011


Government working to tighten system, including more education for doctors

Changes to the medical marijuana licensing system were made to prevent exploitation, the government says.

Canada’s medical marijuana licensing system is vulnerable to abuse and needs to be tightened, the health ministry says after data emerged this week revealing a surge in possibly fraudulent applications. "We’re aware there are opportunities and risks of the system being abused, which is why we are working to tighten the system," Steve Outhouse, a representative of Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, said on Friday.

Outhouse was speaking in response to Postmedia’s recent series looking at medical marijuana licensing and use in Canada. The series was based on electronic data obtained from Health Canada through the Access to Information Act.bThe figures showed, for example, that between 2008 and 2010 applications to Health Canada for medical marijuana based on severe arthritis claims jumped 2,400 per cent.

There are two main changes Aglukkaq has proposed to prevent exploitation of the government’s Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. They include better educating doctors on how to prescribe medical marijuana and eliminating the right of patients to be granted a licence to grow in their homes, he said. "We want to be able to get more information to doctors, because often doctors don’t have all the information they need to make an informed decision as to whether or not to prescribe," said Outhouse.

"The other thing we’re proposing is that people wouldn’t grow in homes. That it would be available through a centralized location, whatever company would grow it, to treat it as much as any other drug." Outhouse said the minister is concerned about the safety risks involved with allowing people to grow marijuana in their home.

He said it’s also difficult to regulate plant growth in homes, and there is a risk of people growing more marijuana than they are permitted. "If we can reduce and eliminate that at the home level, then a lot of these issues will be dealt with," said Outhouse.

However, under the proposed changes, Health Canada wants to remove itself as the ultimate arer in approving or rejecting applications to possess marijuana for medical reasons. Instead, doctors alone would sign off on requests.

The nation’s largest doctors’ group – the Canadian Medical Association – has said the proposals would put even greater pressure on doctors to control access to a largely untested and unregulated substance, a drug that hasn’t gone through the normal regulatory review process. The CMA fears the changes would essentially offload all responsibility for using and monitoring marijuana to the doctors who signs an authorization.

Health Canada is appointing an advisory committee that will be charged with assembling current information on the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Outhouse expects the regulations to be finalized in 2012.

I wonder how far this guy would make it with a name change?:rolleyes:

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