Pennsylvania Doctors May Shy Away from Medical Marijuana Prescriptions

Thanks to the continued efforts of groups like the American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH), a legislator like Governor Tom Wolf, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has finally agreed to create legal medical marijuana programs to use throughout the state. It marks a tremendous victory for medical marijuana advocates who have long believed in the medicinal value of cannabidiol (CBD) found in marijuana. However, the uphill path has not been completed.

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still continues to see marijuana as a Schedule I illegal drug, meaning it has no official medicinal benefits and a high addiction or abuse potential; we discuss why the DEA is “blind” to the benefits in another blog, which you can view by clicking here. No matter the reasons the DEA doesn’t openly back medical marijuana use, it could be giving doctors and physicians hesitance to use the newly-legalized substances.

Potential Doctor & Patient Anxieties

If Pennsylvania legislators and lawmakers have approved medical marijuana, why would doctors shy away from it? The main concern might be promoting or prescribing a drug that is technically a Schedule I substance. There is a lot of weight to that classification that could make some doctors fear for their reputation. Patients that have never used recreational marijuana may also be scared into thinking that they are being prescribed a hardcore drug.

A lack of federal funded research may also be troubling some physicians. So long as the DEA won’t acknowledge the usefulness of medical marijuana, federal agencies cannot get their hands on it for study, research, and reanalysis. This leaves doctors looking at incomplete data sets, turning many medical marijuana prescriptions into hunches instead of carefully-planned conclusions.

Other doctors still are waiting for the medical marijuana programs to be started up and get into full swing before considering the substance for treatment options. Without strictly regulated dispensaries and cultivators, the consistency of marijuana strains used for prescriptions could vary batch-to-batch. While this might not pose any immediate threat of harm, some physicians worry it could indicate that they would be prescribing something that didn’t do any good; rather than wonder if the medicine is right for the job, they could turn to pharmaceutical alternatives that are precisely manufactured in laboratories.

Smoking Concerns are Unfounded

Some individuals have stated that they are worried that smoking marijuana for medicinal benefits would be immediately outweighed by the detrimental impact of smoking. These concerns are unfounded, as the newly-approved legislation only allows dispensaries to sell pills, oils, tinctures, and creams. Smoking or eating marijuana are two forms of the substance that are not permitted by the law.

Doctors Could Use Generalized Prescriptions

For physicians currently concerned about writing out a prescription for medical marijuana, generalized prescriptions or diagnoses can relieve some of their stress. A doctor only needs to certify that their patient does suffer from one of the 17 serious medical conditions that can be treated by medical marijuana – cancer, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, and glaucoma to name a few. Once this is done, the patient can take their doctor’s note to a dispensary to purchase certain medical marijuana products.

In effect, this could allow people to get the substances they need to treat their illnesses without forcing hesitant doctors to write the prescriptions directly. However, doctor certifications that permit dispensary purchases can only be written by credential doctors. Four hours of training and annuals reviews will be necessary for credentials to be gained and maintained.

(The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published a full article on this topic, which can be viewed by clicking here, if you would like additional information.)

Legal Professionals Bridge the Gap

Doctors and physicians in Pennsylvania still reluctant to trust in medical marijuana due to government and social stigma can turn to legal professionals for assistance. At Sacks Weston LLC, our Pennsylvania hemp lawyers work regularly and extensively with doctors to educate them about legal compliances and represent them whenever a legal concern becomes a legal dispute. We have also partnered with Dilworth Paxson LLP to provide counsel to even more medical professionals, hospital organizations, and medical universities than ever before.

Contact us online for more information about medical marijuana law in Pennsylvania.