Doctors

A physician can recommend cannabis for medical purposes to a patient provided:

  • The physician is the patient’s attending physician. Attending physician being that defined in California Health and Safety Code section 7(a).
  • Possess a license to practice medicine or osteopathy in California issued by the Medical Board of California or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. This license must be in good standing.
  • Take responsibility for an aspect of the medical care, treatment, diagnosis, counseling, or referral of the applicant (patient).
  • Perform a medical examination of the applicant (patient).
  • As a result of the medical examination, document in the patient’s medical record that the patient has a serious medical condition and that the medical use of cannabis is appropriate.
  • Have the patient sign an authorized medical release of information. The county program cannot process the patient’s application without the appropriate authorization for release of medical information.
  • Provide to the patient copies of the medical records stating that he or she has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition and that the medical use of cannabis is appropriate.

If your physician is working with a dispensary, he/she could be operating illegally

In almost all cases it is against the law for a physician, who recommends cannabis for medical purposes, to be compensated by, work with, or have an agreement with any person or entity dispensing cannabis for medical purposes. As per California’s Business & Professions (B&P) Code section 2525, it is unlawful for a physician to have financial interest in the facility.

“Financial Interest” includes, but is not limited to, any type of ownership interest, debt, load, lease, compensation, renumeration, discount, rebate, refund, dividend, distribution, subsidy, or other form of direct or indirect payment, whether in money or otherwise (full definition in B&P Code section 650.01). See the full law governing medical cannabis recommendations in the California Business and Professions Code below.

Guidelines for Doctors

Medical Board of California an agency in the California Department of Consumer Affairs, issued guidelines for physicians to avoid disciplinary action related to the recommendation of cannabis to their patients for medical purposes. Five (5) main components of the guidelines are:

  1. Close attention to medical documentation and patient’s medical history
  2. An established physician-patient relationship
  3. Adequate medical evaluation
  4. Informed consent
  5. A treatment plan and ongoing monitoring

See the complete Guidelines published April 2018 HERE

More information on suitable standards of care for medical cannabis:

  • California Medical Association: 2011 Guidelines for Physician Recommendation of Medical Cannabis: HERE
  • National Law Review: Moving Toward a Standard of Care for Medical Marijuana: HERE

California Law: Medical Cannabis Recommendations

Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 “notwithstanding any other provision of law, no physician in this state shall be punished, or denied any right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical purposes” (California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.5(c)).

The following are laws, last amended by California Senate Bill 798 in 2017, found in Chapter 5 of Division 2 in the California Business and Professions Code:

ARTICLE 25. Recommending Medical Cannabis

2525.

(a) It is unlawful for a physician and surgeon who recommends cannabis to a patient for a medical purpose to accept, solicit, or offer any form of remuneration from or to a facility issued a state license pursuant to Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 19300) of Division 8, if the physician and surgeon or his or her immediate family have a financial interest in that facility.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “financial interest” shall have the same meaning as in Section 650.01.

(c) A violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) or by civil penalties of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) and shall constitute unprofessional conduct.

2525.1.

The Medical Board of California shall consult with the California Marijuana Research Program, known as the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, authorized pursuant to Section 11362.9 of the Health and Safety Code, on developing and adopting medical guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of medical cannabis.

2525.2.

An individual who possesses a license in good standing to practice medicine or osteopathy issued by the Medical Board of California, the California Board of Podiatric Medicine, or the Osteopathic Medical Board of California shall not recommend medical cannabis to a patient, unless that person is the patient’s attending physician, as defined by subdivision (a) of Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code.

2525.3.

Recommending medical cannabis to a patient for a medical purpose without an appropriate prior examination and a medical indication constitutes unprofessional conduct.

2525.4.

It is unprofessional conduct for any attending physician recommending medical cannabis to be employed by, or enter into any other agreement with, any person or entity dispensing medical cannabis.

2525.5.

(a) A person shall not distribute any form of advertising for physician recommendations for medical cannabis in California unless the advertisement bears the following notice to consumers:

NOTICE TO CONSUMERS: The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 ensures that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use cannabis for medical purposes where medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of medical cannabis. Recommendations must come from an attending physician as defined in Section 11362.7 of the Health and Safety Code. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug according to the federal Controlled Substances Act. Activity related to cannabis use is subject to federal prosecution, regardless of the protections provided by state law.

(b) Advertising for attending physician recommendations for medical cannabis shall meet all of the requirements in Section 651. Price advertising shall not be fraudulent, deceitful, or misleading, including statements or advertisements of bait, discounts, premiums, gifts, or statements of a similar nature.

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