New B.C. pot changes make for ‘easier’ access

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



The largest group of medical pot consumers in the country will likely have an easier time obtaining cannabis as of yesterday, according to the organization now tasked with overseeing legal weed in B.C.

Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar of the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, told 24 hours new and existing users of medical marijuana could now go directly to physicians for a weed “prescription” without approaching Health Canada.

“In many ways it’s easier,” she said. “Patients will see their doctor and the doctor will provide them — if they believe medical marijuana is appropriate — they’ll give them the equivalent of a prescription.”

That medical document can then be brought to Health Canada’s authorized producers.

The medical marijuana changes that took place April 1 were supposed to restrict obtaining legal pot to licensed Health Canada producers, but a court injunction currently in effect means the previous regime’s authorized home-growers can still do so.

Oetter said Health Canada still needs to clear up whether doctors can charge fees for prescribing weed. Currently, doctors can issue a “medical document” for pot.

“We’ve asked them (Health Canada) to clarify whether this is a prescription or not,” she said.

“Physicians can’t charge for a prescription. They can, however, charge for documentation provided to third parties because it’s not an insured service.”

Fees, she said, are supposed to be negotiated based on a patient’s ability to pay, and no patient concerns have surfaced to date regarding any payments.

Oetter said many doctors would likely be pressured to prescribe the green medication, but stressed it’s up to each individual doctor to decide whether or not they would prescribe medical marijuana.



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