The CDPHE recently released a letter outlining their internal policy in evaluating doctors who might be inappropriately writing recommendations for medical marijuana. They claim that they have been operating under this policy for a year an a half since Dr. Wolk came to the agency.
This has caused a lot of upheaval in the community, particularly among parents of our pediatric patients who are afraid they may not be able to find a doctor to sign the recommendations for their seriously ill children.
Some doctors are continuing to operate as usual while others are being more selective about the patients they are seeing. We’ve heard of docs who have severely restricted their appointments, especially when it comes to pediatrics.
Unfortunately, because the pool of doctors willing to sign recommendations, particularly among pediatricians, is so small, this is having a chilling effect on access for patients. Hopefully, this is only temporary.
We’re encouraging the CDPHE to incorporate some flexibility into their policy until the working group established in the Caregiver Bill (SB15-014) that’s now moving through the legislature has the opportunity to work together to develop reasonable guidelines for physicians that will serve to expand the pool of willing doctors rather than limit it.
Here is the CDPHE’s email sent out today clarifying their policy:
The Medical Marijuana Registry has developed an internal policy for identifying potentially inappropriate physician recommendations and initiating physician referrals to the Colorado Medical Board for further investigation. The policy has been vetted through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, the state entity with investigative authority and expertise to evaluate physicians.
Current patient medical marijuana registry cards will remain active regardless of physician referral status. Physicians who have been referred to the Department of Regulatory Agencies for investigation are still able to recommend medical marijuana.
State statute prohibits a physician from recommending medical marijuana if the physician’s license is no longer in good standing, meaning that the license has a condition or restriction disallowing the physician from making medical marijuana recommendations. A physician may continue to recommend medical marijuana until such time as the Department of Regulatory Agencies takes an action that restricts or conditions a referred physician’s license in this manner, unless the department has taken a separate, independent action against the physician pursuant to C.R.S. Section 25-1.5-106(6).
This policy does not prevent a qualified physician, meaning a physician licensed to practice medicine in Colorado whose license is in good standing,with a bona fide physician-patient relationship from recommending medical marijuana for a patient, including those under the age of 18, nor does it limit the number of patients under the age of 18 for whom a physician may recommend medical marijuana. However, as chronic conditions are more prevalent in older adults, physicians whose patients under the age of 30, particularly between the ages of 18-30, account for more than one-third of their patient caseload for whom they have recommended medical marijuana may be referred to the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
If you or your physician has any further questions regarding this policy, you may contact Dr. Ken Gershman with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at: firstname.lastname@example.org.