November 19, 2018, Ohio
Even though Ohio legalized medical marijuana two years ago, the implementation of the pertaining laws only became possible just a couple of months ago. After numerous delays and scaling various impediments, the state regulators finally began to issue MMJ licenses in September. As of now, the state has issued licenses to 300 physicians for recommending medical marijuana treatments. Regulators are dispensing dozens of licenses every day.
However, a large number of physicians working with some of Ohio’s largest healthcare networks won’t be recommending medical marijuana even if they acquire the relevant license. University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth have all issued statements declaring the policy to bar their physicians for writing medical cannabis recommendations, after the recently held MMJ meeting in Cleveland.
All three healthcare facilities allude to different concerns for their position on MMJ. For instance, University Hospitals has made the clash between state and federal laws pertaining to marijuana the reason to prohibit doctors from writing MMJ recommendations. According to the spokesperson of Cleveland Clinic that employs approximately 4,000 physicians, the facility has taken this position against medical cannabis because it lacks compliance with FDA regulations. He has also emphasized that only FDA’s approval process can guarantee the safety and efficacy of any pharmaceutical substance.
The clinic has also made it clear that it will consider MMJ products as a legitimate way of treatment only after the FDA’s approval. Interestingly, the clinic’s spokesperson has entirely missed to mention the recent approval of cannabis-derived medicine Epidiolex by the FDA, which is now on pharmacy shelves in all 50 states as a prescription medicine. MetroHealth’s spokesperson hasn’t given any particular reasons for prohibiting their doctors from writing marijuana prescriptions; nearly 650 physicians are registered with the facility.
MMJ Patients will Suffer
The decision of the state’s three major healthcare networks with the workforce of thousands to ban their physicians from recommending medical cannabis will have major implications for MMJ patients. As per the estimate by the state’s health officials and regulators, up to 51,000 patients can be enrolled in the state’s MMJ program in the first two years, which can’t be efficiently served through few hundred doctors.
Moreover, the majority among 300 registered MMJ physicians are private practitioners. This implies that the many patients will have to go for out-of-coverage treatment, resulting in a hefty medical bill since most of the standard health insurance plans don’t cover visits to private practitioners. Lastly, MMJ patients would have received access to a range of treatments if these major healthcare networks had embraced the statewide legalization of medical cannabis.
In short, MMJ patients in Ohio will have to take an expensive route for acquiring legal cannabis products. The regulators have also estimated that the state’s MMJ program can have more than 200,000 enrolled patients at its full capacity. And without taking major healthcare networks on board, the state couldn’t be able to serve all those hundreds and thousands of patients.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]