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how to become a marijuana doctor

Doctor Requirements for Prescribing Medical Marijuana

Doctors registered and approved under Pennsylvania’s new Medical Marijuana Program will be able to prescribe medical marijuana to qualified patients through a patient certification process. The Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act (SB3) established a Medical Marijuana Program under the Department of Health to serve patients with serious medical conditions, allowing patients to receive marijuana medication legally as a part of their treatment plan.

The Department of Health will be responsible for registering practitioners and overseeing compliance. Chapter 4 of the Medical Marijuana Act covers regulations for practitioners, but physicians may want to consult an attorney to further discuss the risks involved.

What Doctors Need to Know About Prescribing Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

  • Doctors will need to be approved and registered by the Pennsylvania Department of Health to certify patients for medical marijuana use.
  • Patients will receive certification from a physician and an identification card from the Department of Health.
  • Information on certifications issued to patients by doctors is confidential and not subject to public disclosure. However, the names, business address and medical credentials of doctors authorized to provide patients with certification will be made publically available.
  • Doctors will be required to attend a four-hour training course on medical marijuana, and continuing education credit will be given.
  • There will be disciplinary actions against doctors that have violated the Medical Marijuana Act.
  • It is a first degree misdemeanor if a doctor intentionally, knowingly or recklessly certifies an unqualified patient for medical marijuana.
  • Only certain forms of medical marijuana will be allowed.

Forms of Medical Marijuana Allowed in Pennsylvania

The Department of Health is responsible for developing regulations on the types of medical marijuana products that can be made available. These are subject to change after further review of marijuana treatment plans. Under current law, medical marijuana can only be dispensed in the following forms:

  • Pill
  • Oil
  • Topical
  • Vapor
  • Tincture
  • Liquid

Medical marijuana may not be dispensed in dry leaf or plant form. Smoking marijuana, recreationally or for medical purposes, is still illegal. Edible marijuana is not allowed, but patients and caregivers are allowed to put their marijuana product into an edible form to aid ingestion.

Medical Conditions Doctors Can Prescribe Marijuana for in Pennsylvania

Only certain serious medical conditions can be legally treated with medical marijuana under the new Pennsylvania law. Regulations will likely change over the next few years, but as of 2016 the following conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment plans:

  • Cancer
  • Epilesy
  • Autism
  • Glaucoma
  • Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Huntington’s disease.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Intractable seizures.
  • Sickle cell anemia.
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.

Doctor Registration for the Medical Marijuana Certification Program

The Department of Health requires registration for physicians wanting to certify patients for medical marijuana. Doctors must put in an application with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to be registered with the Marijuana Program. The following will be required:

  • Documentation of credentials, training or experience.
  • Annual renewal.
  • Review of physician license to make sure it is not expired, suspended or revoked.

The following requirements must be met in order for a doctor to issue medical marijuana to a patient:

  • The physician must be registered with the Department of Health.
  • The physician’s medical license must be valid and not suspended, revoked or expired.
  • The physician must determine that the patient has a serious medical condition, and must record the condition in the patient’s health care record.
  • The patient must be under the continuing care of the prescribing physician for the serious medical condition.
  • The physician must determine that the patient receives therapeutic or palliative benefits from the medical marijuana after a review of the treatment.
  • The physician must review the drug monitoring program prior to certifying a patient.

Physician Responsibilities Under the Medical Marijuana Program

The doctor has responsibilities to report in writing to the Department of Health certain events pertaining to certified patients:

  • The patient’s serious medical condition no longer exists.
  • Medical marijuana would no longer be therapeutic or palliative.
  • Patient death.

Doctors are not allowed to:

  • Accept remuneration for certification, except a fee for a service to examine a patient to determine if the patient qualifies for medical marijuana certification.
  • Certify self or family members for medical marijuana use.
  • Doctors may not hold a direct or economic interest in a medical marijuana dispensary, grower or processor, or other medical marijuana organizations defined under law.
  • Doctors may not advertise their services as a doctor who can certify a patient for medical marijuana treatment.
  • Make any false statements on the certification form.

Committing any of those acts are a violation of the Medical Marijuana Act. This will cause a doctor to lose certifying privileges for medical marijuana and the physician’s name will be removed from the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Program registry. It will also result in disciplinary action from the State Medical Board for unprofessional conduct under the Medical Practice Act of 1985.

Physician Protection Under the Medical Marijuana Act

Doctors should consult an attorney before making the decision to prescribe medical marijuana. This will give the physician the opportunity to hear from an expert the licensure risks, criminal and civil penalties, marijuana investment allowances, and other risks and protections inherent in the new medical marijuana laws.

Doctor Requirements for Prescribing Medical Marijuana Doctors registered and approved under Pennsylvania’s new Medical Marijuana Program will be able to prescribe medical marijuana to qualified

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Cannabis Doctor

According to US laws, any practicing medical doctor can prescribe medical cannabis provided there is a valid reason. Some kind of proof is needed that a patient’s medical condition requires the use of cannabis or medical marijuana to alleviate the symptoms. At times, patients develop a strong resistance to other forms of medication, making the use of cannabis the only choice. But the quantity administered, the frequency of doses, and length of the treatment are critical factors that would mean the difference between life and death! Hence, only a physician educated in medical marijuana is able to administer the right amount of medical cannabis for a particular condition.

What this means is that any person with a medical degree can monitor the administration of medical marijuana. To put it simply, an ENT specialist will prescribe medical cannabis for a patient suffering from glaucoma who is not responding to the usual medicines. Whereas, an oncologist will have to administer medical marijuana in the case of a patient suffering from cancer. In the same way, a neurologist will deal with a case of chronic pain.

What Does Education on Medical Cannabis Imply?

Despite the fact that doctors do not require a special degree or qualification to administer medical cannabis, they need to gain specific information that will help in giving accurate treatment. The physician must make a deeper study of the endogenous cannabinoid system and how it reacts within the human body.

The doctors must understand not only the biological effects of administering medical cannabis but also gain knowledge of the clinical and legal implications of their treatment. Incidentally, the use of medical marijuana is legal in 30 states in the US as well as the District of Columbia. But some states have still not adopted a liberal attitude on the subject.

What Qualifications Does a Cannabis Doctor Need?

As an abundantly available plant, the different strains of cannabis have been used in various research studies and clinical trials. A doctor who wishes to use medical cannabis as part of treatment must read and understand the plant thoroughly before using it. The doctor must study the plant from different perspectives, for example:

There are several accredited universities in the US that offer courses for understanding the chemistry of the cannabis plant. The physician would then gain extensive knowledge of the active chemicals in the marijuana plant, its reactions with the chemicals existing in the human body, and its efficacy in treating severe medical conditions. The courses contain subjects like organic chemistry, genetics, gas and liquid chromatography, and biostatistics.

Biology of Marijuana

Learning the biology of the cannabis plant will involve the study of the ecology around the endogenous cannabinoid system and its response to other living organisms. This course is also offered by many prestigious American universities and is a tough course that provides insights into the medical applications of cannabis.

Looking for the qualifications to become cannabis doctor? We have written detailed guide on qualifications you need to become cannabis doctor.