With medical marijuana now legal in 33 states, growing numbers of doctors are starting to offer services to patients looking to obtain the necessary documentation to purchase from dispensaries. That documentation is known as the medical marijuana card (MMJ) or medical marijuana identification (MMID). All 33 states that allow medical marijuana accept the documents as proof of need.
Many of the posts discussing the MMJ do so from the patient’s perspective. This post takes the opposite tack. It explores the MMJ from the doctor’s perspective. Being willing to approve medical marijuana cards puts a doctor in the midst of a still controversial issue that may remain in debate for years to come.
Basic Principles of the MMJ
The 23 states that allow medical marijuana but not recreational use have enacted measures to prevent dispensaries from selling recreational pot. One of those measures is requiring an MMJ just to enter dispensary. Once inside, the patient can buy whatever amount of marijuana is necessary to comply with a doctor’s instructions.
Not having an MMJ means not being allowed into a dispensary. In essence, the MMJ takes the place of a prescription in the sense that patients cannot get medical marijuana without it. It differs in that you do not need a prescription to enter a pharmacy.
The Doctor’s Responsibilities
Most states allowing medical marijuana have very strict laws regulating what doctors can and cannot do. For starters, some states require that they be certified before they can even consider allowing patients to obtain MMJs. How a doctor goes about being certified varies from state to state.
After state certification, doctors are not merely allowed to handout MMJs like candy. Medical marijuana laws by no means allow doctors to set up the medical marijuana version of a pill mill.
Doctors must first review a patient’s entire medical history. Then an evaluation of the patient’s current condition must be conducted to determine whether or not that patient’s health warrants the use of medical marijuana. If so, it is up to the doctor to establish any parameters that might be appropriate.
Most states only recognize MMJs for 12 months. So that means every year a patient must get a medical marijuana card for another 12 months. Unfortunately, this also means paying the fee for a new card every year.
In Office or Online
It is probably safe to assume that most doctors certified to approve MMJs do not actively pursue medical marijuana patients as a revenue stream. They treat their normal caseload of patients, recommending medical marijuana when it might be helpful. However, there is an emerging industry that seeks to change that.
Veriheal is a Washington, DC company that specializes in matching certified physicians with patients looking to get a medical cannabis card. The company charges a flat fee for its services, which are offered online. The website also contains a ton of free information about medical marijuana.
One of the best things about this company is that they offer a state-of-the-art mobile app too. Doctors interested in being part of the platform can meet with patients online via the app. Veriheal can also arrange in-person visits as well. They even have a tool that helps doctors and patients find local dispensaries.
The point here is not to push Veriheal. Rather, it is to simply point out the fact that the medical marijuana sector has fully embraced the online business model. This is good for doctors in that it gives them plenty of opportunities to be part of what is arguably the biggest thing to happen to medicine in a long time.