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
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.
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 Diamond 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.
online for more information about medical marijuana law in Pennsylvania.