The Maryland medical marijuana program is not getting off without a hitch. In fact, only 1 percent of the state’s licensed physicians are signing up for the program. Physicians, employed by two of the state’s largest hospital systems are banned from participating. This is a huge disappointment for patients that have been waiting to be able to access the drug.
CEO of MedChi, Gene Ransom said, “Clearly there are not going to be enough physicians, given the level of demand anticipated.” He went on to say that this would create a major problem.
It appears that there is a lack of enthusiasm for the program, with only 172 registered physicians, according to a report obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Patients may be pushed towards these physicians, leaving their primary care physician behind. Patients residing in rural areas may also have difficulty gaining access to the drug, since 95 percent of the participants have plans to work in the Washington suburbs and Baltimore region.
The registered physicians are from various branches of medical practice, including family care, emergency medicine, weight loss, tattoo removal reproductive. A psychiatrist and addiction specialist is considering enveloping the drug into a substance abuse program.
Several researchers and physicians are voicing concerns about patients getting diagnosed by one physician, only to go to another for medical marijuana certification. The lack of understanding and that gap in care could encourage abuse and recreational use.
Medical marijuana is not approved by the FDA, which means there is lack of prescribing guidelines. Some physicians said there is not enough knows about the drug to understand when and how to recommend it. This brings up the issue of liability and legalities.
The state legislature authorized the medical marijuana program in 2014. However, it has been delayed due to the licensing process. Three companies have already filed lawsuits against the commission, claiming racial and geographic diversity was ignored. Cannabis commission spokeswoman, Vanessa Lyon, denied the claims and said the commission’s mission is “to create a process of providing safe and effective medical cannabis to patients.”