Windsor Star: Cannabis lounge launches video service for pot scripts

[Windsor Star – Dan Taekema] A budding local business is offering a service to connect people in Windsor-Essex with doctors outside the area who are willing to prescribe medical marijuana.

The owners of Higher Limits Cannabis Lounge say patients looking for legal access to pot are having trouble finding doctors here who will write them a prescription so they’ve launched a Medical Marijuana Prescription service.

“All we’re doing is connecting those seeking medical marijuana with those who are friendly to prescribing it,” said Higher Limits co-owner Jon Liedtke, who emphasized it wouldn’t be a “prescription mill service.

“It’s not like Venice Beach where you’re guaranteed to get a prescription if you just come in,” he added.

In preparation for the launch a private prescription room has been built inside the downtown marijuana lounge at 251 Ouelette Ave., complete with a computer and web cam.

According to Liedtke, the process begins when patients seeking medical marijuana as a possible form of treatment fill out a form on the lounge’s website. After a submission is collected the patient will be contacted to schedule an appointment with a licensed doctor via video call.

A registered nurse will be on hand during the interview and, after evaluating factors such as the patient’s symptoms and medical history, the doctor will decide if medical marijuana is an appropriate treatment.

The service is available to those over the age of 25 and anyone under that age with a signed parental consent form.

Applicants pay $200 to participate in the interview, but if pot isn’t prescribed Liedtke said their money will be returned.

The 27-year-old said the service has already had 35 inquiries since its launch on Monday.

“There isn’t a day that goes by where we haven’t had somebody asking about how they can gain access to medical marijuana,” said Liedtke. “I think it shows there is a real demand for something like this.”

The service will use the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), an independent organization funded by the provincial government, to link patients with doctors in video conferences.

A spokesperson for the organization said in order to gain access to the OTN doctors are validated as licensed providers through the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“If there is a suspicion or evidence that any health professional is using our system in a manner that does not meet acceptable standards of care, we are concerned,” read an emailed statement from the organization, which added that OTN could not comment on whether or not what Higher Limits proposes is “appropriate practice or not.”

Tracey Sobers, spokesperson for the College of Physicians, said whether or not using telemedicine to assist a patient to gain a medical marijuana licence is appropriate depends on a number of factors including doctor-patient relationship, clinical presentation of the patient and the requirements of the federal Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.

“When using Skype or any other technology to interact with patients in a different location, physicians are expected to ensure that they are in compliance with the aforementioned requirements,” she wrote.

 Liedtke said the purpose of the service is to make people’s lives better and is the latest way Higher Limits can serve Windsor-Essex as a “cannabis community centre.”

“We’re trying to do everything as above board as possible,” said Liedtke. “We don’t want to break the law … the whole medical marijuana community is all about providing relief and compassion for people when they are in need of the most help.”

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