Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Medical marijuana update

with one comment

I got a call last night from Marijuana Policy Project and learned a couple of things:

  1. The physician is totally protected. The one at risk is the dispensary and the patient.
  2. There’s an excellent Web site giving more guidance, including state-specific guidance.

Physician totally protected:

Oregon doctors can prescribe medical marijuana to their patients without fear of punishment from the federal government, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The high court on Tuesday declined the Bush administration’s request to consider whether the federal government can punish doctors for recommending marijuana to sick patients.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco had ruled that such action by the government violated the right of physicians to speak candidly to patients without fear of government sanctions.

Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, who is responsible for upholding Oregon laws, sees the U.S. Supreme Court decision as a clear-cut victory for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, spokesman Kevin Neely said.

“Under this decision, physicians in Oregon are free to speak with their patients about the use of medicinal marijuana,” he said. “There is no doubt.”

Todd Dalotto, president and co-founder of Compassion Center, a Eugene medical marijuana clinic, said the court’s decision to let stand the appeals court ruling was “one of the best things that’s happened to Oregon’s medical marijuana patients” since voters created the medical marijuana program by approving a 1998 ballot initiative.

The Oregon program allows patients with at least one listed ailment to qualify for a medical marijuana registration card through the Oregon Department of Human Services, which exempts them from prosecution for possessing a small amount of cannabis to treat their pain or condition.

But before they can obtain a medical marijuana card, an attending physician signs a statement saying “marijuana used medically may mitigate the symptoms or effects of this patient’s condition.”

Before the Supreme Court decision, patients have had difficulty finding doctors willing to sign such a statement, fearing that the federal government could yank their license to prescribe drugs, Dalotto said.

“Until now, one of the top obstacles facing seriously ill and sick Oregonians from benefiting from the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act has been the unwillingness of their doctor to sign the attending physician statement,” Dalotto said. “What this means in Oregon is that physicians no longer have anything to fear.”

Of the state’s 11,392 medical doctors, only 1,093 of them have signed attending physician statements to allow patients to secure medical marijuana cards. Statewide, such cards have been issued to 5,085 patients.

Dr. Richard Bayer of Portland, an internist who led the campaign to pass the medical marijuana initiative in Oregon, agreed that doctors would feel less threatened by the federal government about discussing the pros and cons of medicinal use of marijuana. But Bayer said he didn’t consider the decision to be strictly a victory for the medical marijuana movement.

“This is a victory for all persons who are concerned about patient-doctor confidentiality,” Bayer said. “This decision actually goes beyond medical marijuana into the area of free speech.”

Oregon is one of nine states with laws legalizing marijuana for people with physician recommendations or prescriptions. The legal case that the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear originated in California, where doctors must recommend cannabis use before a patient can obtain the drug.

It pitted free-speech rights of doctors against government power to keep physicians from encouraging illegal drug use. A ruling for the Bush administration would have made the state medical marijuana laws unusable.

Some California doctors and patients, in filings at the Supreme Court, compared doctor information on pot to physicians’ advice on red wine to reduce the risk of heart disease, vitamin C, acupuncture or chicken soup.

The administration argued that public health—not the First Amendment free-speech rights of doctors or patients—was at stake.

“The provision of medical advice—whether it be that the patient take aspirin or vitamin C, lose or gain weight, exercise or rest, smoke or refrain from smoking marijuana—is not pure speech. It is the conduct of the practice of medicine. As such, it is subject to reasonable regulation,” Solicitor General Theodore Olson said in court papers.

Despite state medical marijuana laws, the threat of federal legal action against those who supply marijuana to people with a doctor’s note remains. In 2001, the Supreme Court upheld a Justice Department effort to shut down an Oakland “cannabis club,” ruling that there is no “medical necessity” exception to the federal ban on marijuana possession.

Written by Leisureguy

22 January 2008 at 9:24 am

One Response

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  1. This is just another example of the evilness, cruelty and prejudice that exists within the Bush administration. To try and regulate the speech between doctor and patient, or infringe on its privacy smacks of Nazism. We do not need more government we need less government in our private lives. The US Government should NOT be able to look into records of privacy such as doctor & patient/lawyer and client relationships or conversations. As it stands now the doctors in America are frightened enough to even write opiate/addictive drugs for fear of DEA trouble. Everytime anyone gets a prescription for a schedule II classification drug it goes into one central computer that the pharmacy board of each state reviews as well as the DEA. Legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use is the only sane way to go. Question: What kind of government legalizes only feircely addictive and fatal drugs for recreational use while prohibiting the use of Cannabis which is proven to be non addictive non fatal and does not spawn a myriad of other fatal diseases like alcohol and nicotine the 2 legal gateway drugs do? What kind of government tries to regulate what you can legally talk to your doctor about? What kind of government puts sick & elderly people in prison for committing a non violent health related issue (using marijuana)? George Washington warned us about the dangers of big government and predicted that would be the downfall of the USA. Just like the Roman Empire collapsed from internal strife, that same internal strife exists in America due to the government lieing to its citizens from the effects of marijuana use to all/any war and much more graft and corruption exists that makes its citizens not trust its president nor its government. Thank God the Supreme Court denied Bush the right to regulate conversation between patient and doctor in regard to anything from red wine to losing weight to medical marijuana. For it is obvious that our Federal Government has a totally different agenda in keeping the use of cannabis/marijuana illegal rather than a health factor for the proof is in, marijuana is a very theraputic drug that controls symptoms in terminal and life long diseases from pain to nausea to anxiety. I would much rather my child use cannabis rather than Ridilan for anxiety/ADHD or what have you. Vote for Ron Paul for President 2008!!!


    22 January 2008 at 1:10 pm

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