One of Canada’s largest licensed medical marijuana producers says it has repeatedly been hit up by specialized clinics asking for money in exchange for referring patients to them – a practice that underscores the lack of clear rules governing the relationship between consumers, their doctors and growers in the nascent industry.
While many of the provincial colleges that regulate doctors forbid physicians to charge patients or growers directly for marijuana prescriptions, it is less clear whether those restrictions apply to clinics that employ doctors. The federal regulatory regime implemented a year ago has sprouted a cottage industry of cannabis clinics for patients whose own doctors may be uncomfortable prescribing medical cannabis. (Pot dispensaries that have exploded in Vancouver and are popping up around the country operate illegally and are unregulated.)
Tilray, a U.S.-owned medical marijuana grower in Nanaimo, B.C., has pulled out of Canada’s main industry lobby group over what it says is a lack of ethical guidelines for producers. Tilray is creating a competing association and calling for a national code of ethics that would forbid growers from paying fees for patient referrals, which it says can be as high as $400. (The Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association said the proposed code could make it harder for its members to sponsor research and could violate Canada’s competition laws.)