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Ottawa wants suppliers to keep tabs on doctors who prescribe pot

Director of Quality Assurance Thomas Shipley inspects drying marijuana plants before they are processed for shipping at Tweed Marijuana Inc in Smith's Falls, Ontario, April 22, 2014.

BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS

The federal Health Department wants medical marijuana suppliers to provide provincial authorities with information on the doctors who prescribe the substance.

And they want them to issue semi-annual reports on the physicians who prescribe marijuana for their patients.

The reports would include the doctor's name and address, how much of the substance was prescribed and for how long. The proposed regulations were published Friday by the federal government.

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The provinces and territories "have identified the need to provide better education and guidance for and monitoring of their members who provide medical documents to their patients to support their access to marijuana for medical purposes," the notice states.

It says that better monitoring of health-care practitioners who provide their patients with the substance "would help support the integrity" of the new medical marijuana system.

"We have consulted with health-care licensing bodies who expressed a need for the data on how doctors and nurses are authorizing marijuana to their patients and in which quantities," Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement. "The proposed regulatory amendments will further strengthen public health and safety by ensuring appropriate oversight and monitoring."

On April 1, Health Canada radically altered the rules for medical marijuana, opening its production up to the commercial sector, expanding it from a cottage industry of thousands of loosely regulated growers.

As of late last month, the department had received 858 applications from a variety of firms wanting to be medical marijuana suppliers.

On Friday, the department said in a statement that it does not endorse marijuana use, but the courts have required reasonable access to it for medical purposes.

"Marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada and has not gone through the necessary rigorous scientific trials for efficacy or safety," it said.

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