5 Reasons Doctors Are Still Wary of Medical Marijuana

5 Reasons Doctors Are Still Wary of Medical Marijuana

5 Reasons Doctors Are Still Wary of Medical Marijuana

Despite medical marijuana now being legal in some 38 states, doctors across the country remain wary of it. They are not comfortable helping patients obtain medical cannabis cards. They do not want to go on record as recommending it. The question is, why? What is it about medical marijuana that gives so many doctors pause?

It’s not just one thing. There are multiple factors to consider. Below are five of them, compliments of the operators of the Deseret Wellness medical cannabis pharmacy in Park City, Utah. Deseret Wellness staff regularly interact with pharmacists and doctors concerned about medical marijuana.

1. Lack of Scientific Evidence

If nothing else, Western medicine relies heavily on evidence-based conclusions. The insatiable desire for evidence is why doctors were so slow to get on board with chiropractic and acupuncture. Many take the same approach to medical marijuana.

Without scientific evidence proving its efficacy, many doctors simply will not recommend it. They will not even consider its usefulness as a treatment if they don’t have studies that they can look at to back it up. Patients may not agree, but that’s the way doctors think.

2. Fear of Violating Federal Law

Next up is the fear of violating federal law. For a lot of doctors, this is a bridge too far. It doesn’t matter to them that federal regulators have turned a blind eye to medical marijuana for decades. It doesn’t matter that doctors are not being prosecuted for recommending marijuana in states where it is legal.

Before we criticize doctors, we need to remember what is at stake. A doctor charged with violating drug laws could permanently lose their license. That’s in addition to facing fines and prison time. The risk just isn’t worth it to doctors who don’t trust Washington to continue turning a blind eye.

3. Fear of Licensing Boards

Along the same lines is the fear of running afoul of state licensing boards. As strange as it sounds, board members are not always on board with the medical cannabis decisions doctors make. Doctors do not want to run the risk of making their licensing boards unhappy by inappropriately recommending medical cannabis.

In Utah, medical providers must not only determine that a patient suffers from a qualifying condition, but also that medical marijuana is the most appropriate treatment. What if a doctor makes a mistake and ignores an alternative treatment that would have been a better choice? He could find himself in trouble with the licensing board.

4. Malpractice Insurance Concerns

Many doctors are wary of medical marijuana because they do not want problems with their medical malpractice insurance providers. Imagine a doctor recommending medical marijuana and subsequently being sued by a patient who had an adverse reaction. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, you can bet the insurance company will refuse to cover any judgment entered against the doctor. They are left to pay the judgment out of pocket.

5. Lack of Insurance Coverage

Last but not least is a lack of insurance coverage for patient visits. Patients hoping to consult with a doctor to obtain a medical cannabis card need to pay for those visits out of pocket. They are not cheap. Furthermore, a lack of insurance coverage limits the number of patients who actually visit their doctors. The result is not enough patients to make medical cannabis recommendations worthwhile. In simple terms, there isn’t enough money to be made.

There may come a point at which medical marijuana is as commonplace as penicillin. But until then, it is a safe bet that a large number of doctors will remain wary of recommending the drug.

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