February 12, 2015 - 2:28 PM
KAMLOOPS – If you’ve wanted to use marijuana as a pain remedy but had difficulty finding a doctor to prescribe it to you, a new service in Kamloops might be the answer to your needs.
Scott Bailey with the Realeaf Wellness Centre says the downtown clinic will start taking patients next week. Not to be confused with a dispensary, the location - with counsellors and a doctor on-site - will help patients get a prescription for marijuana if their pain requires it.
“We provide a counselling service where we analyze what patients are looking for in terms of pain management, what particular issues they wish to address and essentially give them recommendations,” Bailey says.
Those recommendations are then forwarded to Kamloops doctor Ian Mitchell, who Bailey says has extensive experience using marijuana to manage patient's pain. Mitchell's role at Realeaf will be to examine the patient to ensure the pain can be treated with marijuana and won't conflict with other pain medications.
Bailey says there are 150 strains of medicinal marijuana, all with different properties.
With counselling and doctor review, a patient can have a particular strain assigned to the type of pain he or she is suffering from and get recommendations on when to smoke - even how to smoke it. When it comes to getting the green stuff, the clinic will put the patient in touch with a licensed marijuana producer.
Bailey says the most severe pain management cases have come from patients suffering from terminal cancer.
He and his partner Ron Bell saw a potential for the business based on doctors' reticence to prescribe the drug due to a lack of experience, Bailey says.
“Most doctors are uncomfortable with this because they feel like they’re under-informed and they feel like they’re not in a position to properly prescribe,” he adds.
Kamloops is not the first location for Bailey and Bell's business. The company's Vancouver store has been open for two months. Bailey says they chose Kamloops for the Interior location because of Mitchell's availability.
"(Locations) are related to the doctors that we can find who have experience with (prescribing marijuana.) It's exceptionally specialized because it's a very new thing," Bailey says.
Bailey says the challenges with Realeaf has been weaving through the Canadian Medical Association and Health Canada's pharmaceutical rules to learn what the company can and cannot do to help patients get the prescription with minimal cost.
"Our focus is obviously on patients with chronic pain and chronic disease. Those are the people we want to see try to get their life back a little bit. This is our goal, is the patients themselves and we believe we found a way to get them access to this without any significant cost which is really important to a lot of them." Bailey says. "I think we've achieved that fairly well and I think that's going to go very very well."
For more information on the Realeaf Wellness Centre, visit the website www.realeaf.ca
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