Doctors, dentists and pharmacists at Quebec's Sherbrooke University Hospital Centre have unanimously approved the use of medical marijuana in patients' rooms.
'We should be there for the patient,' —Dr. Serge Lepage, CMDP president
“By law we are here to help to maintain and promote and heal patients. So in the process, if at one point marijuana has to be used, we should be there for the patient,” said Dr. Serge Lepage, president of the Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CMDP) at the Sherbrooke Hospital.
The decision comes after the late Charles Bury, the longtime former editor of the Sherbrooke Record, stirred up controversy by asking if he could use prescribed marijuana in his room while in palliative care for Stage 4 liver cancer.
- Charles Bury's marijuana use in hospital stirs debate
- Charles Bury, longtime journalist, dead from liver cancer
At the time, Bury was given permission to use a vaporizer.
But in response to public outcry, the hospital's council decided to vote on an official hospital policy.
All 650 members ruled that if the attending physician approves, patients who are "sick enough" can use a vaporizer to inhale pot.
Lepage said the decision came from a scientific review.
“It's a decision based on fact, on pathology, on the amount of THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] contained in this product,” he said.
Palliative doctor Carl Bromwych, who cared for Bury last January, said he's proud of the result.
"The CMDP has shown an openness of spirit with respect to patients' needs,” Bromwych said.
“Many patients have said simply that it's better than whatever other drugs were being prescribed.”
Conditions must be met
For patients to be allowed to use medicinal marijuana in their hospital rooms, specific conditions must be met.
Bromwych said that only patients who are too sick to leave the hospital can get permission, and their attending physician must give approval.
Patients have to supply their own marijuana — which must be approved by Health Canada — and must use a vapour inhaler inside their own private room.