"Marijuana In Patient Care – Nine Model Guidelines From The Federation of State Medical Boards"

Over the past two decades, beliefs, attitudes, and laws in the United States have grown more tolerant toward the use of marijuana—medical or otherwise. Between 2001 and 2013, the number of adults using marijuana has doubled.

On the clinical front, medical marijuana has become an increasingly popular choice for treatment of symptoms of a wide variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, posttraumatic stress disorder, and epilepsy. Since the passage of Proposition 215 in California in 1996, 23 other states have established medical marijuana programs, including Ohio (See Figure 1), and 17 states have enacted laws permitting the limited use of cannabidiol (“CBD”) oils2 for the treatment of specific diseases. As a result, State Medical and Osteopathic Boards in nearly half of the nation are now required to regulate physicians who recommend marijuana-based treatment options to their patients. Crafting such rules is a balancing act with very high stakes. States can learn from one another to permit the use of medical marijuana while protecting patients and public safety.

To that effect, J. Daniel Gifford, the chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards, designated the Workgroup of Marijuana and Medical Regulation (the “Workgroup”). The Workgroup evaluated current medical and osteopathic rules and regulations dealing with marijuana and drafted nine model guidelines (the “Guidelines”) to assist State Medical Boards in regulating physicians who are licensed to recommend marijuana treatment options such as marijuana or marijuana-infused products to patients. The following summarized Guidelines were not created to encourage marijuana treatment, rather, they intend to provide guidance to physicians and State Medical Boards consistent with accepted professional and ethical standards of practice. In light of the paucity of data regarding the safety and effectiveness of marijuana, the Workgroup urged providers and state regulators to continue to monitor the usage and adverse effects of marijuana. Thus, the Workgroup cautioned that, under federal law, marijuana in all its forms is still a Schedule I substance—making it illegal for recreational and medical use. Marijuana has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and possessing, distributing, or aiding someone to possess or distribute marijuana is still a violation of federal law. Physicians, therefore, cannot prescribe medical marijuana or cannabidiol oils—they can only recommend their use in certain states under certain circumstances.

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