Can Medical Marijuana Help Your Practice Thrive?

Leigh Page


January 15, 2019

In This Article

How Physicians Sign Up for Cannabis 

Physicians have to be certified with the state before they can recommend cannabis. This often means taking a course that can be completed online. The Florida course lasts 2 hours; the Pennsylvania course lasts 4 hours and costs $500. New York, Washington, and Ohio also require courses.

Doner says the Pennsylvania course covers research findings on the use of cannabis and how the state program works. "It's a reasonable start; it's objective," he says. "But it doesn't offer much direction on dosing or on the different preparations."

To start working with patients, doctors have to pay the state a fee: $1000 in Florida, for example. Florida then lists participating doctors in an online databank, so that consumers can find them.

However, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Colorado don't provide online registries, arguing that patients should work with their regular physician and not seek a new one. But the reality is that most physicians aren't registered to recommend cannabis.

Doner says Pennsylvania's online list is useful, because the state prohibits cannabis physicians from advertising. Many states have restrictions on advertising, at least for dispensaries.

Registered physicians can set up referral relationships with doctors who are not registered. "Many of my patients have specialists that support the use of medical cannabis but are prohibited from registering owing to institutional policy," says Ingrid Liu, DO, a family physician in Oak Park, Illinois. Many large health systems prohibit their employed physicians from registering.


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