Compassionate doctors play a very, very big role in a medical marijuana program. States can create all of the lists of qualifying conditions that they want, but if there aren’t doctors that are willing to sign patients’ forms, a state medical marijuana program will never go anywhere. That’s why states need to refrain from putting added barriers in the way of a doctor helping a sick patient. If states put in additional hoops for a doctor to jump through, they are going to be even less inclined to help medical marijuana patients.
A current example of what I’m talking about is in New York. Unlike Oregon, where I live, doctors are required to not only be licensed as a doctor, but they have to get additional certification to recommend medical marijuana to patients. Between the additional hoops and federal laws, a lot of doctors are reluctant to sign up for New York’s medical marijuana program. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
High prices and a dearth of certified doctors who can recommend medical marijuana continue to hurt the five companies licensed to sell MMJ in New York.
That was made painfully clear this week following a presentation about medical marijuana at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany that was attended by dozens of doctors – none of whom seemed willing to sign up to recommend cannabis, according to the Albany Times-Union.
A patient liaison at the hospital told doctors that they would also need to carry additional medical malpractice insurance if they decided to register to recommend MMJ.
As of March 8 there were only 1,565 patients in New York’s medical marijuana program, which is very low considering New York’s population size. New York’s medical marijuana program needs a lot of improvement. A limited amount of doctors is going to continue to hurt the program’s growth, as will high prices for meds, which are being reported out of New York right now.