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Introduction to the RI Medical Marijuana Program

April 11, 2019

 

Hello everyone and welcome to our B&B Medical Marijuana Blog!


The Rhode Island Medical Marijuana program is overseen by the RI Department of Health and was established in 2006. Over the years there have been many changes to the medical marijuana program, and we feel that there will be plenty more to come. Patients in our state can be approved for medical marijuana for 13 various chronic debilitating medical conditions that include, but don’t limit to: cancer, chronic pain, muscle spasms, glaucoma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Autism Spectrum Disorder was very recently approved and was considered a qualifying medical condition for the medical marijuana program late last year in 2018. To get a patient qualified for the medical marijuana program, that patient needs to find a physician (MD, DO, NP) who is aware of their qualifying condition and is willing to sign the approval, which would be a completed, filled out, written Practitioner Form that is provided in the initial application.

In our state, the approval is a recommendation for medical marijuana; it is not a prescription for medical marijuana. The difference between a prescription and a recommendation is the prescription comes with designated instructions and dosages, while recommendations do not.  Many physicians in our state feel uncomfortable with signing the approval of medical marijuana for a multitude of reasons that can span from personal preference to a signed contract that would restrict a physician from signing for the medical marijuana recommendation. Even though our state has a legal medical marijuana program, marijuana is still illegal on the Federal Level and many medical facilities receive federal funding. Due to whatever reason it may be, many physicians will not sign the approval for medical marijuana. Countless other physicians, including ones that won’t sign in RI, have seen the medical benefits with their patients utilizing the medical marijuana program. Many of their concerns stem from lack of available research, education on marijuana and the stigmatic persona marijuana has. If you or someone you know is interested in the medical marijuana program, it is always a good idea to bring it up to a physician, especially if you or someone you know is currently utilizing other medications. It’s good to know if there would be any negative impact using medical marijuana alongside with any prescribed medication(s). If there are no negative impacts known to the physician and both parties are okay with moving forward with the approval - there is a chance that a physician may sign the approval for medical marijuana.