One of Canada's largest pharmacy chains is stepping up to teach doctors about medical marijuana.
Many doctor's are still uncomfortable with recommending medical marijuana, feeling that they are uneducated and don't know how to talk to their patients about it. Shoppers Drug Mart wants to change that with a series of educational sessions. And while family physicians certainly need to be brought up to date with thee best practices for medical marijuana, some question whether or not a pharmacy chain with a vested interest in the cannabis business is the best entity to educate doctors.
"It's not appropriate and it's not necessary," Toronto-based physician Sharon Cirone told CBC. She says doctors should be looking to the guidelines being developed by medical associations like the College of Family Physicians.
Meanwhile, some of Canada's most influential medical associations—including the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Associations—continue to encourage doctors to avoid prescribing cannabis.
"The CMA remains concerned about the lack of clinical research, guidance and regulatory oversight for cannabis as a potential medical intervention," reads a statement from the CMA on its website.
And whether or not doctors are prepared for medical marijuana, the newly legalized recreational market means many more adults are truing to the substance as a means of medication anyway, says Paul Daeninck, a Winnipeg oncologist.
"Now with it being legal, many patients are going forward and getting a product and asking afterwards for guidance on how to use it."
Daeninck is acting as one of the panelists in the Shoppers Drug Mart medical marijuana education sessions. He regularly speaks to other physicians about the use of medical marijuana in his own practice and sees Shoppers' seminars as much needed.
"I feel that a company or a group that's providing education and trying to do it in an unbiased manner is really doing the right thing, and bringing in experts to talk about it is important," Daeninck said.
Regardless, until Canada's premier medical associations come around to the idea of prescribing patients medicinal cannabis, physicians looking to get educated on the matter will have to rely on business like Shopper's to pick up the slack.