Like many medical organizations, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is opposed to the legalization of marijuana for medical use, citing lack of evidence supporting its medicinal value. The president of the organization, Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, has even stated that the legalization of medical marijuana would only result in people obtaining marijuana prescriptions, even if they have no legal medical basis for using the drug.

Unfortunately, the opinion of Dr. Francescutti is a common one, and many in the traditional medical community are of the opinion that legalization would pave the way for users without a legitimate medical need to be able to get high off medical marijuana. Admittedly regulations will have to be implemented and properly enforced in order to ensure that only those with a recognized need for medical marijuana will have access to the drug.

But not everyone in the medical community shares Dr. Francescutti’s opinion. In Canada, some doctors are voicing their concerns about what they referred to as the CMA’s “outdated views” with regard to medical marijuana, saying that these policies are an obstacle to patients that will clearly benefit from the use of the drug.

One of these doctors is Dr. Marcia Gillman, who is a specialist in palliative care at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. Dr. Gillman said that it is the duty of Dr. Francescutti to be well informed about the qualities of medical marijuana, a duty which she feels that the head of the CMA has neglected to achieve.

Dr. Gillman also pointed out that the statements made by Dr. Francescutti had the effect of stigmatizing and marginalizing medical marijuana users, in effect likening them to stoners who are simply interested in getting high. For Dr. Gillman, Dr. Francescutti’s statements served to perpetuate negative stereotypes, effectively deterring doctors from prescribing marijuana to patients who would benefit from it.

Like most medical marijuana advocates, Dr. Gillman is a firm believer in the therapeutic value of cannabis. She is therefore perplexed by the negligence of the CMA and provincial medical colleges with regard to encouraging doctors to become educated about marijuana. The doctor said that the drug has been beneficial to several of her own patients, many of whom have used marijuana with favorable results for dealing with a wide variety of symptoms and conditions such as pain, nausea, lack of appetite, anxiety and sleep-related disorders.

Dr. Gillman also made it clear that none of her patients have ever demanded that she prescribe them with marijuana, nor threatened her to do so. The doctor also said that here patients are in fact often hesitant and even embarrassed and apologetic to ask for a cannabis prescription, given the reputation of the drug in mainstream society. This is in stark contrast to the depiction that Dr. Francescutti made of the persistent and aggressive medical marijuana user simply after a fix.

It may take a while yet before the medical establishment warms up to the idea of prescribing marijuana to their patients. For Dr. Gillman and other medical marijuana advocates however, the drug is the solution for thousands of regular people who are simply looking for relief from the suffering caused by their health conditions.

About the Author: Brian Ellis

With 6 years' experience in business journalism, Brian is the person we turn to for anything related to the business of cannabis. His news coverage spans topics including marijuana business and finance. Brian's work features on,, , and

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