Prescribing Medical Cannabis to Your Patients

Cannabis remains a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act., and can be accessed by medical cannabis appropriate patients who have an authorization/prescription from an authorized healthcare practitioner under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

A healthcare practitioner includes physicians in all provinces and territories, and nurse practitioners in provinces and territories where supporting cannabis for medical purposes are permitted under their scope of practice.

The authorization/prescription is registered with a Health Canada licensed seller under the ACMPR. The licensed seller will ship the patient their medical cannabis by mail order or courier to their residence.

How Do I know My Patient is Appropriate for Cannabis as a Treatment Option?

Healthcare practitioners considering prescribing medical cannabis to their patients should note that cannabis is not a first-line therapy for any medical condition. However, recently has been recommended as a third-line treatment in neuropathic pain by the Canadian Pain Society (CPS).

If your patient has previously tried other prescription medication with minimal effect or unwanted side effects, medical cannabis may be an appropriate treatment option.

Healthcare practitioners should consult their provincial or territorial health care licensing authority’s guidelines and policies before authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Relative Contra-Indications

Medical cannabis is not recommended if patients;

  • Are under the age of 25
  • Are allergic to any cannabinoid or smoke
  • Have serious liver, kidney, heart or lung disease
  • Have a personal or family history of serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, or bipolar disorder
  • Are pregnant, are planning to get pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • Are a man who wishes to start a family
  • Have a history of alcohol or drug abuse or substance dependence.

Authorizing Patients

If you feel your patient would benefit from medical cannabis, complete an ACMPR Medical Document and secure fax it to the chosen Health Canada licensed seller where your patient will be purchasing his/her medication.

If you are not knowledgeable in cannabinoid therapy or are not comfortable authorizing medical cannabis to your patient, even though you feel your patient may benefit, you can refer your patient to the Greenleaf Medical Clinic by completing our Patient Referral Form and faxing it to our office. Once the completed form is received your patient will be assessed by a Greenleaf physician. Following your patients’ assessment, you will be faxed a consultation letter from the treating physician.

Drug Interactions

Cannabis may interact with several drugs. Particularly the following;

  • Any drugs which slow down the central nervous system, causing drowsiness. These may include sleeping pills, tranquillizers, some pain medications, some allergy or cold medications, or anti-seizure medications.
  • Other drugs may include antiretroviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, certain anti-depressants, stomach acid inhibitors, certain antibiotics, and anti-fungal medications, certain heart medications, and Saint John’s Wort.