How Medical Marijuana is Disrupting the Healthcare Industry

April 2021

The use of medical marijuana in the U.S. has evolved drastically over the years, and continues to change with each passing day. In spite of this, there may still be those who are unaware of the potential benefits that it can offer for those who suffer from illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and more. Those living with these conditions may find comfort for their symptoms or side effects through cannabis treatments - and ultimately a better quality of life. So what is the current status of medical marijuana?

As the popularity of medical marijuana increases, so do questions surrounding its use. Many patients want to know how and where they can access cannabis legally - while others wonder if they qualify for a prescription. The answers to these questions are constantly evolving, and can be subject to change depending on the state that you live in or even the specific county where you reside.

In order to understand the current status, it is imperative to explore some of the most important recent developments that have taken place in the U.S.. Many research papers discuss ways in which the use of medical marijuana has changed over time, including how it can help with nausea, pain relief effects, relieving stress and anxiety, and more.

Most people don't realize just how much there is to learn about this drug that has now come into such prominence in recent years. There are many different forms, methods, side effects, and additional research results that need to be taken into account before making a final decision. While this article will not cover all of the necessary information regarding medical marijuana, it will provide an overview of the unique characteristics and benefits that make this drug so versatile.

Going Legal

Professional organizations and lobbying groups are taking on issues such as medical marijuana legalization to help patients. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has begun to promote federal medical marijuana laws as a means of providing overall health care access. This organization has sponsored specific seminars in relation to this issue since 2011 in order to educate lawmakers and stakeholders about the necessity of rescheduling cannabis for medical use.

Is the healthcare industry prepared for medical marijuana?

Currently, only few out of the 50 states in the United States allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana: California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Three additional states (Alaska, Maine and Nevada) will go to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana in November. While there is a potential that more states could legalize adult-use cannabis by the end of 2021 (and beyond), there is still a very long way to go before patients nationwide have access to legal cannabis as part of their treatment plans.

For most patients with chronic conditions looking for alternative treatments in addition to standard care, they will still need to follow state-specific rules in order to obtain a legal recommendation for medical marijuana.

But why?

The regulations surrounding the approval of medical marijuana vary state by state. It's important to note that it is difficult to obtain a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana in states where it is still illegal, so patients who are interested in using cannabis for medicinal purposes must take extra measures.

What kind of conditions are legal?

There are several conditions that can be treated with medical cannabis and the federal government does not prohibit doctors from prescribing it. However, professionals who handle prescriptions must abide by strict federal regulations pertaining to controlled substances, which can make it difficult for patients with certain conditions or their physicians to obtain a prescription from their local pharmacy.

What are these regulations?

The Controlled Substance Act (CSA) of 1970, which is the main law regulating controlled substances in the United States, does not prohibit doctors from prescribing cannabis to patients they deem fit. Rather, it requires physicians to file a "Form-10 Pharmacy Form" that includes a whole host of conditions and circumstances that could put them in legal jeopardy. The form identifies numerous factors that could make a physician at risk for prosecution for illegally prescribing certain substances. Some of these factors include: prescribing opioids for a non-medically necessary purpose; prescribing unnecessary quantities of certain medications; prescribing drugs with only vague indications; and possibly recommending drugs without any medical necessity.

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