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YoBob's avatar

Miminum requirements to become a licensed medical marijuana prescriber?

Asked by YoBob (12823points) January 19th, 2011

I was watching CNN the other night and was rather surprised to see a special on medical marijuana. One featured couple have been running a business in Colorado and have been on the leading edge of the trend. It was quite obvious to me that these were not “just a couple of stoners”. He was an ex-marine and she was ex military intelligence. In discussing the business they flatly stated the opinion that as other states jump on the band wagon this would grow into the next boom industry that has potential to rival the techno boom of the late late 80s.

There was another interview with a doctor whose practice revolved around the recommendation of medical marijuana. He stated that he made in excess of a million dollars last year at $130 a pop for the recommendation and that due to state regulations every one of his patients must renew their recommendation yearly (a steady stream of revenue for years to come).

So, being in a state that has not yet jumped on the band wagon, and with such huge profits to be had, I can’t help but ask what it takes to become a part of the industry.

In current medical MJ states, what is the minimum requirement for becoming licensed to recommend for medical use? Must one be a full fledged MD, or can someone with a degree in say, acupuncture or herbal medicine get licensed?

Inquiring minds want to know…

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7 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You have to be a physician.

Buttonstc's avatar

Here in Michigan, a full fledged MD (or DO) is necessary and I doubt that other states have a lesser standard.

However, there is the possibility of applying for a license to grow it for medical use. Some states specify a limit as to how many patients each “caregiver” can grow for, thus limiting the number of plants one can be growing at any one period of time. But there are no specific requirements for doing that other than a clean criminal record.

Details of the specifics of each states system vary from one to another but keep in mind that none of them exempt someone from the Federal Govt. deciding to confiscate, arrest, press legal charges, etc.

But since MJ is a controlled substance in a category one level stricter than narcotics, I really can’t imagine anyone short of a licensed MD being able to prescribe it.

Chiropractors can’t even prescribe antiobiotics, much less controlled substances. And unlesss an Acupuncturist has also graduated from a regular medical school and passed state boards for MDs, they are in the same boat.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

You don’t get licensed to prescribe marijuana. Physicians (MDs, DOs) and (I think) anyone with prescription capabilities (NPs, PAs) can recommend it, saying that they believe that medical marijuana may help your condition. You can’t recommend it if you can’t prescribe other things, and there’s no such thing as legally prescribing it – only recommending it.

However, I’m almost positive that the couple you saw didn’t prescribe/recommend it, they dispensed it. You can become a caregiver, which means you grow the plants for someone else’s use. Due to the structuring of Colorado’s laws, you can become a caregiver (even without a set patient) and open a dispensary where those with MMJ cards can purchase MMJ from you.

YoBob's avatar

Yes, the couple were growers. There was, however, an interview with a doctor who runs a clinic that recommends it. His sounds like the best spot to be in the growing industry ecosystem. Basically he hands out laminated “permission” cards at $130 a pop (provided you tell him the right things about your condition).

No inventory, no crops to deal with, no 24/7 surveillance on your facility, and if the Feds ever decide to “crack down”, as long as you are not running a dispensary they can’t bust you for possession or sale and it’s pretty hard to make a criminal case out of you recommending herbal cures.

“Doc, it hurts when I do this!”

“Here’s your card, that’ll be $130.”

Wonder how hard it is to get a medical degree from one of those off shore universities… ;)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@YoBob Ah – he’s then a licensed MD. He could just as easily be doing private practice – many left because the cash was better and their practice was in the dump, or they aren’t really good doctors. But they do have to pass the state license test, so you can’t just pay a fee for an off-shore degree.

Buttonstc's avatar

I watched the same documentary and some of your statements and conclusions are invalid.

He does (and has) turned down those whose medical records he is unable to verify.

He was asking one guy for the name of his Orthopedic Dr. and obviously the guy didn’t have one nor presumably any other Dr. treating him. If he had one, its doubtful he wouldnt know his name, isnt it? He didn’t get the certification for good reason. It’s not that difficult for experienced Docs to spot the fakes.

This Dr said that he also does a regular physical exam (which is standard for a normal professional) for which (obviously) the cameras were not permitted.

It’s not quite as simplistic as you’re making it sound. Standards do vary from one state to another, but in my state there is a clearly delineated set of criteria for patients to qualify for MM as their is in all states who permit its use for medical reasons.

If you’re interested, just go to Michigan.gov and do a search on Medical MJ qualifiers. You can do the same for any other states which permit it also. I recently was researching this for myself and I read through all the info. quite thoroughly.

If someone is just certifying (or recommending, whatever the case may be) everyone who walks in the door, this will become obvious in time and I’m sure the ever-watchful gov. will have a set of consequences ready and waiting for Drs. who are abusing their privilege.

With other controlled substances ( most likely painkillers like Oxy Contin) a physician does not have to be “dispensing” drugs in order to potentially face criminal prosecution and hefty jail time.

I’ve seen enough cases in the news where an MD who was basically selling Oxy prescriptions for 50–150 (or more) bucks a pop every few mins. or so had the law finally catch up with him.

And it usually did involve doing things the old-fashioned way like his office being staked out and patient counts per hour being diligently tracked and documented as well as undercovers going in to get their prescriptions. No physical exam, no check on previous medical records, etc etc. The few shysters and money-grabbing bad apples in the bunch are eventually convicted and sent to prison.

Just irresponsibly writing the prescriptions was enough to do it. I imagine the same standards apply to writing recommendations for MM and possibly more so.

MM is one class higher in restriction than really heavy duty painkillers like Morphine, Dilaudid, OxyContin and the like.

That seems pretty bass-ackwards to me, since there have been countless deaths directly linked to Opiate abuse and none to MJ, (afaik), but that’s our marvelous Government wisdom for ya.

Anyhow, the majority of MDs are responsible professionals who maintain reasonable standards of care and practice.

And, if you ever do manage to graduate from Med school and pass License Board exams and end up running a prescription mill just for the bucks, I think you’ll stick out like a sore thumb and get the penalties deserved. (Speaking hypothetically, of course.)

:)

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