According to the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, in the first four months of this year, there was a noteworthy increase in the number of doctors prescribing cannabis.
At the end of 2016, there were 329 doctors registered to authorize medical marijuana for 5,254 people, but as of April 2017, there are almost 500 doctors who are licensed to prescribe medicinal marijuana to 9,995 Albertans. This means that in just 4 months this number has jumped by almost a 100% for both the doctors and users as well.
“Almost every single patient I have has asked about it,” said Dr. Lori Montgomery, a Calgary-based chronic pain physician who prescribes medical marijuana to a handful of her patients with nerve pain. She does so judiciously.
“I do think there are situations when a patient has tried everything else, nothing else works and they’re low risk in terms of the things we think put people at risk of adverse effects of cannabis, then it’s worth a try,” she said.
Dr. Lori Montgomery says community-based doctors in Calgary are becoming more open to prescribing medical marijuana, in fact, she also claims that: “Over the last year or two, people are more comfortable having that conversation,”.
“We have a lot more opportunities to learn about cannabis now, as doctors,” she said. “We have a lot more opportunities to figure out how to instruct patients about safer patterns of use, probably as compared to a year ago.”
Dr. Montgomery agrees a cautious approach is necessary. With 500 physicians authorized to treat 10,000 Albertans, she worries there are some doctors who are prescribing cannabis without the proper scrutiny or follow-up.
“I would be happier if more people were authorizing for fewer patients. That, to me, would indicate that the authorizations are being done by someone who has a relationship with the patient and really understands the situation.”