Doctors, Patients Not Fully Aware Of New Rules Regarding Smoking Medical Marijuana

New rules regarding the do's and don'ts that doctors must adhere to while certifying patients to smoke medical marijuana came into effect in the second week of July, but still many doctors and patients are not completely aware of all the fine details of the rules. In such a situation, it becomes highly important that both doctors and patients get correct and accurate information regarding the laws so that it does not lead to problems for either of them in the long run.

As per the new rules, patients who have been certified or recertified to smoke medical marijuana by doctors must sign a new standardized consent form from when the new rules kick in. That form includes information about the dangers of smoking marijuana while standing next to oxygen tanks and asks patients to check their marijuana supplies for mold contaminants.

In addition, doctors must comply with newly designed practice standards, which for the first time give out the details as to what the doctors must do to certify patients and what information needs to be included in patients' medical records.

Even though the new rules have set in, statewide medical groups have not given their members any information that the new rules are effective and how to go about them. The state Office of Medical Marijuana Use also does not have the new standardized consent form on their website.

The regulations were decided upon by the Joint Committee on Medical Marijuana, made up of members of the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Earlier in 2019, a legislature was passed, which made it compulsory that medical boards decide upon rules for physicians to follow when ordering smokable marijuana for patients.

Before the new rules were implemented, non-terminal patients who were being certified to smoke medical marijuana were made to sign consent forms. The new practice guidelines make it clear that physicians must conduct in-person full assessments of patients that include family and social history "with an emphasis on substance abuse disorder and mental health". All the findings of the assessments must be included in the patients' medical records.

As per the new rules for medical marijuana, doctors must mention in the medical records whether patients are pregnant and the results of any diagnostic therapeutic or lab work, if done, must be included. Also, while the state has required physicians to check with a prescription-drug database before ordering marijuana for patients, the new rules lay out that physicians must document in the patients' medical records that they checked the database.

A report published by the Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine shows that 95 percent of the 443,888 patients who had certifications for medical marijuana between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, have given at least one order for smokable marijuana.

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