A new Grande Prairie clinic catering to patients interested in using medical marijuana has opened in Grande Prairie.
Leaf Wise Rx, a Calgary-based medical cannabis clinic, held an open house Wednesday at its new location in Junction Point on the second floor in the PrimeCARE Health building. The clinic’s local owner is Andrew Boone, manager of the PrimeCARE clinic. He said a growing number of PrimeCARE patients had been inquiring about medical marijuana.
“I did more research as legalization came into the forefront and we decided we need to look at this as an option for patients,” he said.
James Foster, Leaf Wise Rx owner, said he started the company after similar inquiries from patients at his Calgary medical clinic.
“(We want) to educate patients correctly and ensure they’re accessing it through the appropriate legal channels, and that people who can benefit from it are accessing a clean, healthy product as opposed to going through other means to access it,” he said.
Doctors at the clinic review patients to determine whether to prescribe medical cannabis. If a prescription is given, the clinic will recommend a marijuana producer, and a “nurse educator” will inform the patient about how to access and use the products. Visits to the clinic are covered by public health care.
The slick packages of several producers’ products were on display in the clinic, with representatives from the companies on hand. One of the companies was Ontario-based Aphria Inc., which recently invested $25 million to set up in Florida and plans to expand into the 28 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Foster said cannabis has “a tremendous amount of medicinal and health benefits,” and that he himself takes an oil-based product to treat anxiety and help with sleep.
“It can (treat) anything from anxiety to arthritis, many cancer patients use it for pain – so there’s a myriad of different conditions. It’s not exclusive to a short list.”
However, The Canadian Medical Association – whose membership includes more than 80,000 Canadian doctors – has repeatedly expressed concerns about medical marijuana, citing the drug’s negative effects and the lack of evidence to support the medical benefits claimed by its proponents.
According to a recent study from the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine – which looked at more than 10,000 scientific studies – only three of the medicinal benefits commonly claimed for pot are supported by concrete evidence. These are: treating chronic pain, nausea after chemotherapy, and symptoms of multiple sclerosis. On the other hand, the evidence was either poor or non-existent for the claims that pot helps with symptoms such as anxiety and depression, while strong evidence linked it to psychosis, schizophrenia and car accidents.
Foster and Boone said patients will be carefully assessed and it’s not guaranteed that anyone who visits the clinic will get a prescription;
“It’s not for everyone, let’s be clear,” Boone said. “That’s part of our thorough assessment that we do.”