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Last week in an interview with CBC, Dr. John Blackmer, Vice President of The CMA stated that “Medical Professionals want the Medical Marijuana program Phased out once legalization occurs…” reason being “there is no need…”.

As a medical professional and a member of the CMA I don’t agree; and many of my colleagues feel similarly. Perhaps one of the reasons my colleagues are not as vocal, is for fear of ostracism from associations such as the CMA. It is difficult as medical professionals, (there really isn’t a platform to voice opinions that might be counter to the majority or seen as controversial in medicine), to voice contrary opinions without fear of backlash.

It should be remembered that the CMA is a private voluntary association that is supposed to represent its members and I do not recall (I could be wrong of course) being consulted on whether as a member of the CMA, I think that Medical Cannabis should be phased out, at least I didn’t see the results. What I know is that in medicine, anytime one responds with a dichotomous response, a generalization being “yes or no”, we should be wary and question it.

There are clearly two sides to this complex conversation, (and it is a conversation) and Dr. Blackmer is representing his; which of course he is entitled to and we should respect it. But don’t be fooled, it is his personal view, just as mine and those of my colleagues are different. His view does not represent that of all CMA members. 

I can tell you that Synergy Health Services, has more referrals coming in now then ever before. We have over 340 unique individual physicians referring to our clinics in our region. We have over 3000 patients with the average age being mid 50s.

Other wellness clinics, like Dr. Mike Hart’s, ReadyToGo Clinic, In London Ontario, are in similar situations and statements like Dr. Blackmers’, on behalf of the CMA members, is just not accurate. There are over 10,000 physicians, in Canada, who have prescribed Cannabis.

Other physicians, like Dr. Hart, feel that the CMA should be emphasizing cannabis education over trying to phase out the program. A program that was built on the the physician’s tenant of “do no harm”.

To add, Dr. Blackmer states, “There isn’t enough evidence to support medical marijuana”; If we are talking evidence, and dosing guidelines, we have evidence, and we have ongoing research. Although the clinical research is it is still in its infancy, Cannabis is already listed as a therapeutic option in the National Pain Guidelines. At the end of the day, evidence changes but a physician’s oath does not. The success physicians like myself are seeing with cannabis is unprecedented. 

I hear the argument that there is a lot of abuse of the system and that Patients are only attending clinic for secondary gain. First, i think this is insulting not only to the physicians who practice good medicine, but also to patients and a representation of an outdated archaic patriarchy, certainly not patient centric. 

While I don’t doubt that there are abusers of the system (and it is part of our duty to protect society), as there are of all Systems within Medicine, i would like to see where the evidence for this is. I have conducted an anonymous survey of patients in our clinic and we expect approximately 20% attrition, certainly not a majority. 

There is one legitimate concerning area that I think colleges should focus on and that’s doctors who are charging thousands of dollars for self growing licenses. I have been informed of said behaviour and of course this should be handled on a case by case basis with proper investigation. However, to hold an entire community responsible for the actions of a relative few, is inconsistent with regular medical practice. If it was standard medical practice, there would be a ban on all narcotic prescriptions, as there appears to be far more abuse of that system then the cannabis one; hence the epidemic we are currently facing. 

So lets sit and have a meaningful conversation and look at all sides of the equation. In my opinion, the CMA, would be better off supporting the Medical Cannabis program, as it is currently being shown to be a safe alternative to a crisis (opioid crisis), physicians are partly responsible for creating.

I wanted to thank the following physicians for their support of this article:


Michael J. Verbora, MD, CCFP, MBA

Assistant Professor (Adjunct), McMaster University

Chief Medical Officer, Aleafia

Student Health Physician, Seneca College

D11 – Delegate, Ontario Medical Association


Michael Hart, M.D., CCFP, BSc. 

Founder and Medical Director of ReadyToGo Clinic


Danial Schecter, MD, CCFP 

Co-Founder Canabo Medical Clinic 

Chief Medical Advisor, AusCann


Marni Brooks MD, CCFP, FCFP, BSc, MSW