CPSO’s New Marijuana for Medical Purposes Policy

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (“CPSO”) has approved a new policy, Marijuana for Medical Purposes (“the MMP Policy”), which outlines the CPSO’s expectations for all physicians who prescribe dried marijuana for medical purposes.

medical marijuana 2The MMP Policy was developed following the enactment of the federal Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (“MMPR”) on April 1, 2014 and was informed by the feedback received during an initial external consultation period. The Dual diagnosis treatment center was open for consultation until December 5, 2014, and was approved by Council on March 6, 2015. The CPSO’s former Medical Marijuana policy had been in place since 2002 and was based on the former federal legislative regime for marijuana: the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (“MMAR”).

The old policy essentially provided that physicians were not obliged to complete a medical declaration in support of a patient’s application to possess dried marijuana for medical purposes under the MMAR, and that if they chose to do so, they should proceed with caution.

 

Key Features of the MMP Policy

In order to obtain dried marijuana for medical purposes under the MMPR, patients are required to obtain a medical document completed by an authorized healthcare practitioner and to submit it directly to a federally-licensed producer. The CPSO takes the position in the MMP policy that the medical document required under the MMPR is equivalent to a prescription. As such, the MMP Policy provides that physicians who prescribe dried marijuana must ensure compliance with the MMPR, as well as the CPSO’s Prescribing Drugs policy, and any other relevant College policies, including, but not limited to, the Dispensing Drugs, Complementary/Alternative Medicine, and Telemedicine policies.

The MMP policy does not endorse or prohibit the use of dried marijuana for medical purposes. Instead, it sets out guidelines and expectations for physicians who, based on their own clinical and professional judgment, choose to prescribe dried marijuana to their patients. More specifically, the policy contains obligations that physicians must meet prior to prescribing, when prescribing, and with respect to charging fees.

A follow-up blog post will review the policy’s guidance with respect to each of these obligations.

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