Most people perceive any and all physicians who recommend cannabis to be a “pot doctor” who profits off signing the certificates. Unfortunately, there are many examples that turn this perception into reality, making it difficult for actual patients to receive true medical care when it comes to cannabis. Along with this are the dispensaries that do not have actual products that can be used by medical patients or those that do not provide the proper instructions or dosage information. These issues, coupled with flaws in the current system, make access for patients a challenge.
The physician should be practicing to the standards of care in their respective fields. They should be in a medical office, keeping proper medical records in compliance with all privacy laws. In addition to completing a medical history and conducting a physical exam, all medical recommendations should be documented. These are basic standards that should be applied, but patient care should go further. A proper tutorial and introduction to cannabis should be completed. This includes providing information regarding the the different forms of cannabis, the relative strengths of those forms, and how to determine the proper dosing. The patient should understand what possible contaminants could be present and use only properly tested medications. Patients should have regular follow up appointments with their physicians so they can receive updates on new information regarding cannabis and have their dosing reviewed. The office should also be communicating with other treating physicians when appropriate.
The physician and staff should have knowledge about a patient’s medical conditions and provide a treatment plan that best suits that particular case. The physician should be comfortable with cannabis and all of the conditions that it can treat. They should be up to date on all of the latest research and discoveries in regards to medical cannabis. The physician should be able to answer most any question regarding cannabis and its medicinal uses.
The most important issue for patients is that they must fully support the certification. This includes providing documentation when needed to validate the certification, completing forms, attaining physician consults letters, work/school notes, court testimony, probation letters, documentation for CPS, and registration with LARA. These are issues that affect patients on a daily basis and can significantly impact their lives.
Having an experienced and knowledgeable medical team supporting a patient’s medical cannabis treatment is essential to making sure every aspect of care and follow-up is handled properly.