People seeking a doctor who will write a recommendation for medical marijuana often have a long wait. MarketWatch reports in Massachusetts, many patients have been waiting since the state’s medical marijuana law took effect in January. The waiting list there is about 3,000 people long.
In New Hampshire, which last week became the 19th state to legalize medical marijuana, the waiting list for an appointment on the booking site MarijuanaDoctors.com has 650 patients, even though doctors there will not be able to write recommendations for marijuana for another year.
In Illinois, where Governor Pat Quinn will sign the state’s medical marijuana bill today, 1,800 patients are on the waiting list for an appointment.
The long waits are largely due to the relatively small number of doctors who write recommendations for marijuana, the article notes. In Massachusetts, there are only seven doctors listed on MarijuanaDoctors.com. A few more will write recommendations but don’t publicize their services, according to John Nicolazzo, COO of The Medical Cannabis Network, the parent company of the booking site.
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, doctors cannot write a prescription for marijuana, but they can recommend it, or certify that a patient would benefit from using the drug. Patients take the recommendation to a dispensary to purchase the marijuana.
Many doctors are unwilling to write such recommendations. “We feel that marijuana is an untested treatment,” Travis Harker, a family medicine physician and President of the New Hampshire Medical Society, told MarketWatch. “This is uncharted territory, it’s still not a legal drug under federal law, so I think a lot of physicians will be rightly cautious about recommending this.”
For those doctors who do recommend marijuana, many find it is profitable. Patients pay $150 to $300 for each marijuana recommendation; insurance will not cover the appointment or the drug.