The Guardian looks into how physicians in favor of medical marijuana will be affected if recreational marijuana law gets passed.
If Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act gets passed in California in November, things might change for cannabis-friendly physicians writing recommendations for medical marijuana patients.
Along with three other states, residents will vote on whether recreational use of marijuana should be allowed. Adults over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to one once of cannabis. They will be able to obtain cannabis from stores and would no longer need a doctor’s note.
Many doctors currently make easy money out of writing recommendations for patients. This has affected the reputation of doctors like Frank Lucido, a California physician, who truly believes in the value of medical marijuana, in a negative way.
If Prop 64 gets approved it could put an end to a backdoor industry which attracted doctors writing recommendations and exploiting the semi-legal gray area of medical cannabis. And also put an end to making a mockery of those who are seriously looking for solutions to patient’s problems.
As Dr Lucido relates, one doctor called him up from Colorado to enquire about business in California at the time when Colorado voters were about to approve Amendment 64. He was looking for somewhere to move to where writing recommendations was still good business.
Scams gave medical marijuana a bad reputation
Medical marijuana recommendations are issued by places such as San Francisco Green Evaluations. This “clinic” can be found upstairs in a music store. Here Samuel Dismond III writes recommendations for as little as $45, and “super fast”, as multiple Yelp reviewers put it.
Dismond III a former primary care physician with nearly 30 years of experience opted for writing cannabis recommendations after he became disabled in a car crash. He couldn’t continue with primary care.
He says he started with one day a week and saw an opportunity, which became gangbuster-good.
Then there are the likes of Roger J Foster aka Dr Skype, who “sees” patients via Skype. For him, medical marijuana was easy money at $50 to $100 cash every few minutes, on condition the recommendation is renewed annually.
Dismond comments that most of these physicians have some or other problem pertaining to their medical licenses. They were restricted and couldn’t prescribe other medicines. They rubber-stamped recommendations and couldn’t care less. That is what gave cannabis physicians such a bad name.
No wonder conservatives and law enforcement officials criticized medical marijuana as a sham, saying they are ‘script mills’ equal to ‘pill mills’ churning out opiate scripts.
For doctors like Lucido this has meant professional ridicule. At least one chain of these ‘clinics’ 420 MD is tied to organized crime.
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Proposition 64 will benefit honest doctors and get rid of charlatans
If the measure gets passed, medical marijuana would still continue in California, patients would need a form from an ‘attending physician’ and would have to obtain a state-issued medical marijuana patient ID card. The card would exempt them from sales tax on cannabis. A 15% excise – and local tax might still apply.
The tax difference and prescribing for patients between 18 and 20 years old will still draw people to doctors such as doctor Lucido post-legalization. He is also confident that more people will become familiar with the use of medical marijuana after cannabis becomes legal. He hopes more people will discover the benefit of non-psychoactive cannabis in treating for instance, chronic pain. Only 5% of Californians use medical marijuana according to a survey done in 2012.
Dr Jeffrey Hergenrather, of Sebastopol, California, started writing recommendations 16 years ago, when only 10% of his patients had never used cannabis before. Half his patients now are new to it, including children with autism or seizure disorders.
Lucido expects to loose ‘25% to 50%’ of his practice under Prop 64, but he will still see patients who need guidance, he says.
His comment on the Skype and record store doctors: “They gave us a bad name and delayed legalization by a few years, but they never harmed anybody. 90% of those doctors will have to go out and find a job now.”
Legal CBD oil “medical marijuana” for a safe option
In conclusion, medical marijuana can only benefit from Proposition 64 being passed and people could have legal access to treatment. Until such time, CBD oil can be used for maintaining good health or for specific conditions in many states. Discuss this option with your healthcare practitioner and enjoy the benefits of a legal, safe product obtained from a reputable source.