Doctors Who Prescribe Medical Marijuana in Arizona May Face Consequences

Arizona lawmakers are trying to pass legislation to punish doctors who prescribe medical marijuana cards to unqualified patients.

Doctors in the state may legally prescribe marijuana to patients who meet qualifications. Though it is legal in Arizona, state legislators have proposed new regulations that could levy felony charges against professionals if they don’t follow additional requirements before recommending cannabis to patients.

Some experts have raised concerns that the state should be doing more to tackle the opioid epidemic rather than combating one of their alternatives. Furthermore, cannabis has shown that is a viable treatment for a variety of ailments in pill form.

Arizona’s House Health Committee has voted in favor of the law, which could put the doctors who prescribe medical marijuana at risk for up to a year in prison if they don’t conduct a full medical exam or review their patients at least a year of their prior medical records before issuing state certification for medical cannabis.

The measure was spawned by Sheila Polk, Yavapai County Attorney, who seeks to put a stop to who she claims are “pot doctors” making money by providing medical cards to people who do not meet the standards of medical marijuana in the state.

The County Attorney said that he position is motivated by what she views as relaxed laws that she says allow anyone to acquire a medical marijuana card.

She also claimed the 85 percent of medical marijuana cards that are obtained by men between the ages of 18 and 30 for chronic pain, which is a condition that legally qualified for state-obtained medical card under the requirements of the law passed by voters in 2010. According to Polk, fewer than 3 percent of patients have requested cards for cancer-related condition while less than 2 percent have received cannabis for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Polk acknowledged that there are currently laws that allow medical boards to discipline doctors with measures live revocation of their license, but she complained that these regulations are not a sufficient substitute to criminal prosecution. The viewpoint is not shared by every member of the Arizona House.

Other lawmakers, including Pamela Powers Hanley, said the bill is in an attempt to over-regulate cannabis.