Kids and Cannabis? Most pediatricians didn’t know they could prescribe marijuana

Kids and Cannabis? Most pediatricians didn’t know they could prescribe marijuana
There are so many hot button topics to deal with leading up to the legalization of cannabis in
Canada in just a few months. The topic of the impact of cannabis legalization on children is top
of mind for most people in law enforcement and in the field of education. But How about
doctors? Specifically pediatricians. As you will see opinions vary amongst the mainstream
health care professionals regarding whether or not cannabis once legal should be prescribed to
children.

A survey was recently released by Health Canada revealed that almost 50% of Canadian
pediatricians didn’t know that they could prescribe marijuana to their patients. Dr. Michael
Reider a pediatrician who wrote the Canadian Pediatric Society position statement on
cannabis use had this to say. “The conversations are very interesting. The families usually come
in with a certain set of ideas,” he says.

Despite half saying they treated a patient who was using cannabis for medical reasons, only 34
said they personally had prescribed authorized cannabis use in the year prior. However, only a
third of Canadian pediatricians and pediatric sub specialties responded to the 2017 survey (877
out of 2,816).

The main problem he thinks is that doctors do not know when to prescribe or how to prescribe
medical marijuana. “They don’t know when to prescribe or how much or for how long. Although
there’s a list of authorized providers from Health Canada, he notes, there isn’t a product
monograph outlining side effects or possible risks in the short and longer term.” says Dr.
Richard Bélanger, who helped conduct the survey for Canadian Paediatric Surveillance
Program (CPSP)

This survey is just one step tin helping to clear up the confusion around how pediatricians can
and should use medical marijuana, Bélanger says. With legalization coming Oct. 17, he says,
there are still many health professionals saying they don’t have enough knowledge around
prescribing cannabis.

As research continues and pediatricians arm themselves with the latest information ahead of
legalization, Rieder says its important for parents to remember that cannabis is just like any
other drug with “potentially good effects and potentially bad effects.” This survey highlights is
that the mainstream medical establishment is behind when it comes to the facts surrounding
medical marijuana and alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs to treat their patients.

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