Lawmakers in Colorado, worried that “marijuana mills” have popped up to help patients get high rather than healthy, are trying to figure out how to control access. But a slew of competing proposals is making it hazy for doctors and patients to operate.
One proposed regulation would require a “bona fide” relationship between doctor and patient. Another would ban doctors with conditions on their medical licenses from prescribing pot.
Already there is confusion. Some 1,300 people who applied for medical marijuana cards were rejected late last year by state health officials because their recommendations came from doctors with license conditions.
That sounds reasonable, but the problem, according to the Colorado Medical Society, is that some conditions have nothing to do with a doctor’s ability to prescribe medication.
Take for example Dr. Abraham Grinberg, a 64-year-old Denver physician who once focused on neonatal care until a hand tremor made surgery impossible. He sensibly dropped out of that business, and started seeing patients who needed medical marijuana.
“I really felt that was helping people, people who couldn’t be helped by other means,” Grinberg said. “I helped them get off painkillers and narcotics.”
Now he’s on the sidelines, waiting for Colorado health officials to hammer out the rules. And that has some advocates angry.
“Voters in 2000 deemed that it was medicine,” Diana Protopapa of the Colorado Medical Society said, referring to the year Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana. “What the medical society then wants is for marijuana to be treated like other medicine.”
Studies show that people with HIV, spinal cord injury, and other pain-related disorders can benefit from smoking pot, according to WebMD. The drug is also prescribed to treat glaucoma. But smoking pot can also bring health risks such as increased heart rate and anxiety. Marijuana smoke, like cigarettes, contains carcinogens, although, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana has not been proven to cause lung cancer.
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