The term marijuana doctor seems to be the new buzz word in the cannabis industry, but is a marijuana doctor, (also known as an MMJ doctor), a real Ph.D. doctor? One that has gone through the traditional Ph.D. route and established a medical practice. Furthermore, with so many so-called “Marijuana doctors” in the industry, how can you tell the good from the bad?
Due to the discrepancy between state laws and contradictions between state and federal laws in regards to what is allowed and what is forbidden, many niches within the marijuana industry have not yet been fully established and regulated.
While this is creating a lot of room for opportunity, there are those that are also taking advantage of the cracks in the system to capitalize on the market. According to recent reports, there has been an increase in the number of fake doctors issuing invalid medical marijuana recommendations. These “marijuana doctors” hand out phony recs that are worthless.
If you are looking for a legitimate marijuana doctor, then there are a few things you need to watch out for. But first and foremost,
What is a Marijuana Doctor?
A marijuana doctor is a physician with all the rights and privileges of a normal doctor. A marijuana doctor is actually a normal doctor that has experience in the medical field with one difference; They are willing and qualified to recommend medical marijuana. Marijuana doctors can be general practitioners or a doctor of a specific field such as oncology.
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Why isn’t Every Doctor a Marijuana Doctor?
First and foremost, not every doctor wants to become a marijuana doctor. Other doctors simply don’t believe in the healing properties of marijuana, and those that do, are caught between the legal controversy over the use of marijuana which is creating a legal and ethical dilemma. Therefore, while it remains against federal law, many doctors would simply avoid the substance, let alone recommend it.
In addition, those physicians who are adamant enough to become an MMJ doctor often need to pass strict screening processes enforced by their State’s Board of Health to register as an official marijuana doctor. As of now, each state has its own qualifications. For example, in the state of California and with the passing of Proposition 215, regular doctors are permitted to issue marijuana recommendations.
Does this mean that every doctor is issuing a medical recommendation?
Unfortunately not, doctors are still reluctant to do so as prop 215 doesn’t supersede federal law, which says that cannabis is illegal and a schedule 1 drug.
In other states, the laws are harsher as often only some doctors are permitted to apply to the State to become a Medical marijuana doctor and even then the process is long and tedious.
Also when a marijuana doctor is approved by the state, they are expected to maintain a strict practice. The Federation of State Medical Boards published a similar list of guidelines for physicians in 2016.
Their recommendations also included the following:
- A doctor who recommends marijuana should not hold any financial interest in a company that grows or dispenses cannabis, and their office should not be established in proximity to such a facility.
- When treating a patient with substance abuse or mental health issues, the doctor should consult with a specialist in pain management or psychiatry prior to recommending a treatment plan that includes marijuana.
- The doctor should maintain a written treatment plan that includes all of the patient’s pertinent medical history, proof of consent to treat, results of periodic follow-ups, notes from consulting specialists and an ongoing treatment plan for twelve months or less of marijuana treatment.
5 Ways to Know if Your Marijuana Doctor is Legit
1) The Compassionate Use Registry
This doesn’t apply in all states, but some states are more organized than other ones, in the medical marijuana card doctor industry. States such as Florida have set up a database to keep track of all the legit doctors who are authorized by the state to issue medical marijuana treatment. These databases also contain the names of patients who are qualified under state laws to use cannabis as a medical treatment. Next time you are looking for a doctor check to see if your state has a registry and that your doctor is registered.
As we mentioned throughout this article, there are so many marijuana doctors out there; it is often hard to tell the good from the bad. One excellent way to know if your marijuana doctor is legit is to get a recommendation from someone you know. A trusted friend can tell you what whether the doctor is legit and how was the experience.
If a doctor is willing to offer you a medical card for lower than $50, then you need to watch out. A lot of fake doctors are selling recommendations or cards for “bargain” prices. Legitimate doctors might be more expensive, but the extra money spent will be worth it down the road.
4) Ask the name of the 420 Evaluating Doctor
It’s important to ask over the phone the name of the doctor, whether the 420 doctor is certified to suggest the use of medical marijuana and whether that doctor is going to examine you first-hand. Don’t settle for an evaluation with an assistant. Doctors will often sign the recommendation but won’t physically be there to examine you. That raises questions regarding the credibility of the physician.
5) Thorough Examinations
This is the most important way to know if your medical marijuana doctor is legit or not. When your doctor conducts your evaluation, make sure that you are receiving a thorough examination. The doctor should inquire about your medical condition and ask you a bunch of question about your condition. A legitimate doctor will not want to risk his/her reputation on prescribing medical cannabis as a treatment for people who don’t really need it and therefore will thoroughly assess their patients.
If your evaluation feels quick and dirty, then it means that your doctor is probably not complying with the Medical Board’s guidelines. A 5-minute evaluation doesn’t represent a legitimate evaluation. This should get you thinking as to whether the doctor sitting in front of you is legit. It would be best to stop the evaluation and find another marijuana doctor.
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