In states where medical marijuana is legal, regulated medical marijuana cards allow dispensaries and law enforcement officials to identify legitimate patients.
But when Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued a preventive pardon order for possession of medical marijuana, there was nothing in the action uniform maps of marijuana or any other government registration. Instead, the order, which went into effect Jan. 1, requires patients to get a “written statement” from a doctor that says they have one of 21 qualifying conditions.
The order says the certification must include the doctor’s contact information, his professional license number and a statement of good faith with the patient, but does not provide any additional guidance on the document. The certificate is not a prescription and must not mention marijuana.
The lack of regulation — along with the legal no-man’s land that medical marijuana occupies in Kentucky today — has left doctors and health care systems in the commonwealth to fend for themselves, leading to mixed reactions to the executive order.
“It certainly presented some interesting puzzles that we could solve through our providers,” Michael Newkirk, vice president of Baptist Health Medical Group, said in an interview LEO Weekly. “The governor’s approach to this is not legalizing marijuana. It doesn’t mean prescription marijuana, so we’ve really had to work with our doctors on how to approach that with their patients.”
In response to the order, Newkirk said, Baptist Health developed a template for the document that “satisfies the governor’s health statement requirements so that we have less variation in what our providers give to the patient.”
In addition, he said, health care providers have been advised to inform patients who request such a document of the potential consequences of seeking medical marijuana: that it is still technically illegal in the Commonwealth and at the federal level, and that they may face consequences from drug tests or other things. how about child custody.
According to the executive order, people with one of 21 qualifying conditions are excused in advance from possessing up to eight ounces of marijuana as long as it was legally purchased in another state and the person has a receipt of purchase and a written certificate from a doctor. Beshear called his executive order “flawed” and described it as a stopgap until the Legislature can legalize medical cannabis.
While Baptist, which owns seven hospitals in Kentucky, said LEO that it has established a clear protocol for implementing the order, other health systems have been more vague in their approaches.
“Based on the available scientific literature, UofL Health cannot recommend that its providers certify patients for the use of medical cannabis,” David MacArthur, UofL Health’s director of public affairs, said in a statement to LEO Weekly on Tuesday. “However, the final decision to grant certification rests with each supplier. UofL Health trusts its providers to make the best decisions for each individual patient.”
Alison Perry, spokeswoman for the University of Kentucky Medical Campus in Lexington, echoed similar sentiments in a brief email to LEO.
“Because medical cannabis products are not FDA approved, doctors cannot prescribe medical cannabis. It is not part of the treatment protocol here at UK HealthCare,” she said.
At the same time, she did not specify whether the doctors will provide certification in accordance with the governor’s order.
Norton Healthcare, which has five hospitals in Louisville, said it will issue documents that comply with the governor’s order.
“Our main goal, as always, is to provide our patients with the care they need. This order is similar to other situations that require a health screening,” said Maggie Rathker, director of community affairs for Norton Healthcare.
Amid the confusion, the Kentucky Medical Association, which represents doctors across the commonwealth and has previously pushed back on efforts to legalize medical marijuana, is recommending that doctors seek advice on patients seeking certification to be used under the executive order.
“Given the uncertainty and liability concerns, we encourage them to speak with their employer and/or legal counsel for guidance,” said Emily Schott, director of communications for the Kentucky Medical Association.
Although Baptist has a system in place to navigate the order, Newkirk, vice president of Baptist Health Medical Group, said decisions about certifying letters will ultimately fall into the hands of physicians.
“I think every doctor and every provider is going to have to make conscious decisions about whether or not to issue these letters knowing that marijuana could be used by their patient and whether that’s really in the best interest of the patient,” he said. “I think it’s difficult. I think there’s going to be a lot of very difficult conversations in clinic groups talking to patients about this.”
As health professionals fight the executive order, so do those seeking medical marijuana. How LEO As reported last week, medical marijuana advocates in the Commonwealth expressed concern that the lack of a standardized document on medical marijuana — as well as the amnesty aspect of the executive order — means people could still get into legal trouble for legitimately trying to seek medical help. hemp
This story was originally published LEO Weeklysister publication of CityBeat.