Physicians can now sign up to join Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana enterprise.
“Any M.D. or D.O. who treats patients with any of 17 qualifying conditions should register with the state,” Rachel Levine, the state’s acting secretary of health, said Wednesday as she announced the official start of doctor participation in the program.
The success of the marijuana program, which is set to begin in early 2018, will depend on getting physicians involved quickly. In New York and New Jersey, patient access to medical marijuana and cannabis-derived medicines has been tightly restricted because relatively few doctors are participating. About 900 of New York’s 96,000 physicians have signed up.
In Pennsylvania, only doctors will be permitted to write recommendations for medical marijuana. They cannot write prescriptions because the federal government maintains marijuana has no legitimate medical use.
Physicians will be required to take a four-hour course either online or in person to do that. The course, which will cost about $500, will qualify for continuing education credits. Levine said the state had approved two providers to teach the class, the Answer Age and Extra Step Assurance, but added that other educational services could be announced shortly.
State regulations prohibit doctors from advertising their services to write cannabis recommendations. Physicians also may not hold a direct economic interest in a growing operation or a dispensary. They may not write recommendations for themselves or family members.
Qualifying conditions include ALS, autism, cancer, Crohn’s disease, chronic neuropathic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/ AIDS, Huntington’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, intractable seizures, MS, neuropathies, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, sickle cell anemia, and spinal cord damage resulting in intractable spasticity.