Ira Price speaks on the topics related to his experience in the
emergency room, with sports medicine, and how that work lewd to, and was
impacted by, his leadership in cannabinoid medicine.
• Dr. Price on how cannabis helps with
"The key is to first "Do no Harm" then do everything you can! This
should be the creed of all medicine. Cannabis is no exception. We have
been extremely fortunate with Cannabis, for
the past 30 years governments have funded plenty of studies trying to
prove the harmful effects of Cannabis on the human body, and each time,
and for the most part, without exception the majority of these studies
failed to show significant harm and in the contrary showed us that
Cannabis has a large safety profile. Sure we need larger longitudinal
studies but which drug doesn't and to deny this body of literature is to
deny our duty to do no harm. As not seeing cannabis as an alternative to
traditional medicine, especially opioids, is to cause patient harm"
• Dr. Price on cannabis as treatment for opiods:
"Cannabis has the potential to be used for an array of diseases and
ailments. The vast majority of pain patients are tired of their opioids.
They are tired of popping pills that can potentially
kill them. In Canada, one of the leading causes of death in young people
are opioids either intentional or otherwise. Have you seen cannabis
killing people? I don't think so. If cannabis
is so dangerous the bodies would be piling up - 40 percent of our
population has tried it and 14 percent on a regular basis but there are
no bodies. While on the other hand opioid overdoses are increasing on a
dangerous level. We know there are synergies between opioids and
cannabis, so of course it works.
We have the literature and I certainly
have the patients to
show for it...I got into Cannabinoid Medicine because I was tired of
seeing opioid overdoses. Each shift, I see at least 1 or 2 overdoses,
intoxications or abusers all because of opioids and
it needed to stop. This is my way of stopping it. I have 2700 patients
in my Hamilton clinic, all of whom work on decreasing their narcotic
use. Our success is astonishing. "
• Dr. Price on role educating doctors:
"For the past 5 years I've been fortunate enough to educate hundreds of
physicians on the clinical application of cannabis. Cannabis wasn't one
of the lectures we received in Medical
school and to no physicians fault, most don't even know where to begin.
It can be intimidating for a physician, who is held to the unrealistic
standard of "knowing all" about health, to sit with
a patient who knows more about a drug then they do. So I don't blame
physicians who don't prescribe cannabis.
That being said, Cannabis is here to stay
and so I made it my mission to educate as many physicians as possible on
The use of Cannabis in Medicine. I've taken serious flack for it in the
early years for sure. When I first started, there weren't more then a
handful of physicians Prescribing cannabis, there were no guidelines or
protocols, I sat out there basically waving my flag all alone and yeah,
it brought a lot of attention. I didn't care, I was helping patients!
One day I'd be used by the media as a medical expert (for example Global
National) and the next day I'd be their public enemy. There was a
significant amount of poor reporting. This still happens. It's a
systemic issue. The same as it is in medicine. At least in medicine, we
search for truth, no matter what are bias. So I found myself trying to
change the message and now colleges accept cannabis, physicians are
prescribing it, a legal industry literally blooming in front of us and
I'll keep on educating until that message is clear; cannabis is safe and
a viable alternative or adjunct for many ailments."
• Dr Price on the questions doctors have about prescribing cannabis:
My patients just want to smoke the stuff
and be lazy. Any drug can be abused. The message should be clear, it's
not for everyone and no drug, whatever it is should be abused.
• How do you dose cannabis?
It's a long answer. The short answer is follow "the price protocol"
which is the protocol I created 4 years ago for initiating the naive
The most fascinating sociological part of cannabis is that it's the only
medicine I can think of that truly requires a collaborative process
between patient and physician."
• Dr Price discusses his perspectives on cannabis in sport / use
"We know it's safe, we know it isn't a performance enhancing drug, we
know it's Neuro protective (it protects the brain), so why not? Why are
opioids that kill people ok? It's backwards thinking. It's not
progressive and it's not science, if we continue to ban cannabis.
Addiction amongst athletes is an issue, I
know because I work with teams! We can avoid these things. It's my
recommendation that Cannabis should to be seriously considered and taken
the ban substances list."
• Dr Price on the media and it's reporting on cannabis as medicine:
"I have one major regret throughout this whole experience, and that's
that I haven't been able to change the conversation in the media. We are
still using terms like marijuana, despite knowing it's origins, we are
still portraying cannabis users holding big blunts and smoking joints,
when the news comes on I see it being reported as the Wild West or "pot
nation" but the truth is cannabis is far from this and it's my regret
that I haven't been able to explore these avenues with a reliable media
source. For the most part I've always avoided the media because after
what Global National did, I didn't trust any of them, it was totally
inaccurate and sensationalized reporting, that severely damaged both the
medicine and my reputation. So I avoided them. They seem to always come
back when there are defeats but never during the successes and the
success of cannabis far out-ways the defeats and set backs. I focused on
my patients, and I still do but the conversation needs to change and now
• Dr. Price on the current state of medical cannabis supply in
There is a supply and demand issue that is facing Canadians. There are
approximately 40 LPs in Canada and together they aren't able to supply
the needs of Canadians currently. Every LP
faces similar issues, after all Cannabis is a plant and one has to farm
it and there are always issues. The strict regulations that Health
Canada imposes on the Legal Grow Operations under the ACMPR, combined
with the neglect and lack of surveillance by authorities of "dispensary
model", a model which should be seen as an utter disgrace to the
cannabis community (both medical and lifestyle alike), drives a money
hungry black market.
That being said, regulation on quality is
absolutely necessary but we need to create a system that provides safe
access to everyone whether medical or otherwise.
There should be tax breaks for those who
require Medical Cannabis and a proper taxation on those who are
lifestyle users but all should be required to have proper quality
As a physician, the MMPR was by far a larger step forward for the
progression of Cannabinoid Medicine than the ACMPR. The ACMPR was two
steps backwards in my opinion. Placing
physicians in a position (by the government) to write prescriptions for
people who are growing their own cannabis is unsafe and unfair to
doctors. Legalize it for these people before placing physicians at the
helm of a system that has virtually no ability to be monitored for the
majority of physicians.
For myself, I've implemented systems to
help monitor people
that are self growing but I've had to be creative to do it as
legislation itself pretty much prohibits physicians from monitoring the
quality of self growing.
Should physicians prescribe medications without doses? If I told you to
go take your diabetes pills and you asked me how much and I responded, I
don't know take a few and see what
happens, I would be not only in neglect of my duty to do no harm but I
would feel extremely horrible if there was a side effect. Knowing that
this medication can help but having my hands
tied is tough. The reason for moving back for the ACMPR from my
understanding was basically to increase affordable access to medication.
So make it affordable, impose legislation forcing insurance companies to
cover Cannabis. That is a far more responsible choice then creating
another black market of self growers looking for the highest possible
• Dr Price on the widely reported storefront dispensaries that are
illegal under the current system and whether they might have a role in
the coming legal and regulated marketplace:
The current dispensary model disgusts me. For the most part (and there
are of course the odd exception to this) owners of these dispensaries
have absolutely no interest in helping their
clients, no compassion as they like to claim and definitely could care
less about the quality of their cannabis. Some of them, specifically in
Hamilton, have even committed fraud, placing
my name without put my permission on cards, presenting them to their
clients and saying "Dr. Price is now your doctor is anyone asks". I've
had to call the police and send cease and desist
letters. One story even worse then this stands out in my mind, I was
hiring a cannabis Educator for my Burlington clinic who divulged that
she had previously worked at a dispensary
who forced her to obtain a thirty gram per day medical document from a
disgusting physician out of Toronto, for self growing.
This physician, charges $100.00/gram to
these people and
will sign scripts for anything. It's disgusting and appalling. This is
what the ACMPR has created. When I first started prescribing Cannabis in
2010, I had to bill patients directly, as OHIP at the time, in writing
told me that it was a federal program and therefore not covered by the
provincial insurance company. At that time I billed patients $250.00
dollars per year and still saw them every three months. I spent the next
three years writing letters to OHIP asking if they would change their
mind and finally in 2013 when the MMPR came into effect, they finally
wrote stating "given the changing political atmosphere it is now going
to be a covered service".
From that moment forward I have never
charged a mandatory fee in my clinic. When I see physicians working with
dispensaries like this it literally makes me sick and makes me so
disappointed. It detracts from the hard work, that those who really care
have fought for so hard over the years.
I think there is a place for store fronts to sell cannabis in the future
marketplace. I would likely partake from a medical perspective. It will
be great when patients no longer have to
wait weeks to obtain their medicine and can purchase it on the spot. I
also think this requires regulation. The most important aspect of
regulation in my mind is quality assurance. Granted,
there aren't bodies piling up from cannabis deaths, over the thousands
of years cannabis has existed but there also weren't killer pesticides
and chemicals for thousands of years. With the
increasing fungal and bacterial loads found in recreational cannabis,
along with the mixture of harmful new synthetic cannabinoids like K2,
spice and bath salts showing up in ERs around the country, we need
quality assurance regulation. Once this is figured out, I don't see a
problem with store fronts selling cannabis. There is more harm, I'd say
with putting Cannabis in places that sell alcohol and Cigarettes, both
of which are far more detrimental to health then cannabis.
• When the Doctor was asked for a a story that sticks out about a
patient who benefited from cannabis where other medicines had not
helped, he responded:
I'm going to give you hundreds of stories! The experience is not unique
anymore. I have approximately 2700 patients in my Hamilton clinic. We
have a 75% success rate at decreasing patients opioid use at least 50%.
We have a huge success rate, at getting patients off there opioids
altogether. Patients who's opioid doses are 8-10 times higher then the
recommended daily amounts come in at wits end! They are frustrated,
their physicians are frustrated, their family is in shambles and no one
knows where to turn. So they put their faith in us. This is the story of
Synergy on a daily basis and it doesn't matter if you are 3 years old
(our youngest CBD prescribed patient) or 93 (our eldest cannabis
patient) We work with our patients. We don't judge them. We accept them.
We collaborate and council and then create a treatment plan. I couldn't
be more proud of a group of health care workers and patients then those
that you see at Synergy.
Sure, cannabis doesn't work for everyone. I've had to fire patients for
being abusive to our physicians and staff. I've had to call the police
and I've dealt with threats and college complaints from unsatisfied
patients not getting what they want but at the end of the day, these
people are far fewer and in between then our outstanding patients.
In general, I explain the benefit of Cannabis on a population like this;
out of five people it works excellent for two, ok for 1 and doesn't do
much for two.
• Dr Price on community reaction to the cannabis clinics and the
reaction of other doctors:
When I first began prescribing Cannabis in 2010, there was negative
feedback from well everyone, aside from the patient. I had the media
accusing me of "charging money to access health care", as we have all
seen, I've had the college investigate my clinics for four years and 97%
of my patients were self referred. Today, seven years later, I have a
99% physician referral clinic with over three hundred referring
physicians; I have 2700 patients in my Hamilton clinic and just about to
open a Cannabis Wellness Centre in Burlington full with Vape Yoga and
exercise therapy; I've published a clinical guide to prescribing
Cannabis with a specific dosing protocol called "the price protocol"
(named by another physician) which is used by physicians around the
country; my practice has been peer reviewed and accepted by the College;
I've lectured at most large medical schools around the province; I've
educated thousands of physicians around the country; the conversation in
the media, although still has a way to go, has come quite far; and most
importantly Cannabis is viewed, in my opinion, by the majority of
Canadians as a therapeutic option! This is amazing. Has the journey been
Hell no! I've taken bumps and bruises. I've been the scapegoat for
everyone at some point. But I've also never felt better. I've seen
Cannabis change the lives of thousands of people and
I've been at the forefront of a new, developing medication. An industry
built on the request of patients who have had enough.
Sure, there are roads that still need to be crossed. Landlords are
hesitant to lease space, and community members are hesitant to have
cannabis related services in their neighbourhoods but this is just a
matter of education and these barriers are being "up rooted" one lecture
at a time.
See more from Tracy Lamourie on her blog
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