In the United States, the federal government through the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 has classified cannabis as a schedule 1 drug thus making it illegal for use due to the high risk of abuse. However, at the state level, legalization of medical marijuana varies, with each state having its own regulations and guidelines regarding its use. Only under strict regulations are medical marijuana doctors allowed to prescribe marijuana to their patients.
Can a psychologist prescribe medical marijuana?
As initially pointed out, laws governing the prescription and use of medical marijuana will vary from one state to the other. In most states, however, any physician or medical doctor (including Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) licensed to practice medicine in that particular state can issue a medical cannabis prescription. These physicians include surgeons, neurologist, proctologists, and eye doctors among others.
The licensed physicians can recommend marijuana for medical use to their patients, but they are required to submit a proposal to the state’s Medical Marijuana Commission. This proposal must describe the patient’s medical condition, how he or she will benefit from its use, and outline the follow-up procedures to be put in place.
In our case, however, a psychologist is not necessarily a medical doctor. Yes, he/she may hold a doctorate degree, either a Ph.D. or PsyD, and be licensed to practice talk therapy but cannot issues drug prescriptions. This, therefore, disqualifies psychologists from prescribing medical marijuana. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, can prescribe such medications.
What are the physician’s requirements to qualify them to prescribe medical marijuana?
In Florida, for a physician to qualify to prescribe cannabis medication, he/she must own an active and unrestricted license as an Osteopathic physician or a medical doctor. He is also required to undergo a 2-hour course on marijuana use and pass an examination offered by the Medical Association of Florida.
For one to remain qualified, he has to renew the license by re-taking the course.
Physicians who are ineligible to prescribe marijuana medication
If you wish to get a marijuana medication, you must make sure you have followed all the legal process to avoid getting on the wrong side with the law. That’s why you should avoid obtaining medication from unlicensed or ineligible physicians and medical doctor. Some of these ineligible physicians who you should avoid consulting include:
- Medical doctors with restricted licenses
- Doctors employed by the Marijuana Testing Laboratories
- Medical doctors or physicians who are affiliated with any medical cannabis laboratories, dispensaries or distributors.
Despite being allowed by law to recommend medical marijuana, most physicians are usually skeptical when it comes to offering such medications. This is because they are required to authorize substance that some of them know little about. They find it hard to decide on the right type of cannabis product to recommend, how much and how often it should be taken.
Some also fear to expose themselves to civil litigation by being held responsible for the medication they prescribed to a given patient in case of any adverse outcome. Even worse, they are subscribers of these products that remain illegal in most states. For this reason, you should consider visiting physicians who have specialized specifically in the field of medical marijuana to obtain a medical marijuana card.
What you should know about medical marijuana card
- To qualify for a medical marijuana card, you must first have a qualifying medical condition as stipulated by the Medical Marijuana Act. Ailments classified under this provision may include glaucoma, cancer, chronic muscle spasms, ulcerative colitis, HIV/AIDS, wasting syndrome and Crohn’s disease among others.
- You should be at least 18 years old to own a card since the medication is not eligible for children and teenagers and be able to prove that you are a resident of that particular state.
- You need to undergo a certification appointment where you will receive an evaluation and recommendation from an eligible and licensed Medical Marijuana Doctor. This is usually done after all the possible alternative medications have failed in treating your medical condition
- The Public Health Department issues the cards, which mostly have a validity period of one year after which you are required to undergo the initial registration process to acquire a new one.
Always remember that obtaining a medical marijuana card is not only a matter of being allowed to access medical cannabis, it’s also about common sense and legality. Any misconduct or illegal use of marijuana will subject you to criminal penalties and can lead to disciplinary actions against your doctor.